Saturday, 18 February 2012

Norfolking (28, 29 January)

While the King Lister remained in his ivory tower, his willing subjects were scurrying all over to fill their boots with winter goodies. I finally had got my act together to plan an assault on the Cantley and Buckenham Marshes to pin down the Lesser White-front back for its second year. What could possibly go wrong..

First train to Norwich, tick (Ok that I could have got the fair at a 75% discount if I had been more decisive we will overlook), first train to Cantley done...

I asked the ticket inspector whether I could alight at Buckenham (as this is where the goose was hanging out): "Not on this train mate, we're straight through to Lowestoft".

But, and here I brandished my print-out of train times and stuff, it says here...

What it said there was that a normally 15 minute journey was now 1hr 15 min. Bollocks. Luckily he didn't throw me off the moving train, or charge me an excess fare.

Thinking on my feet. Lowestoft hmm? Black-throated Diver, Iceland Gull, Purple Sandpiper all within 5-10 minuted of the station.

As it turned out the train didn't stay long at Lowestoft and was on its way back to Norwich. Not a bad detour all told, a couple of Marsh Harrier, geese etc. I got off at Cantley in the belief that if the geese were spooked at Buckenham they would make their way down here.

Bradders who was making his way along Norfolk in the opposite direction was already at Buckenham and watching the geese. In with 70 odd Taiga, I was told. Unfortunately I was2-3 miles south on a winding river bank path. My organisational invincibility shot, again!

Ever one to put a rose tint on everything, the walk was pleasant if not a bit chilly: a Peregrine kept the flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover on their toes and wings, one or two or three buzzards, and geese lots of them.

I finally reached Buckenham and could see birders with telescopes trained on a part of the field near the railway line. I scanned: picked out the Taigas, and a White-front, and then another, and another. Hang about DB didn't say anything about several hundred WFGs to sort through.
In the flooded fields between me and the geese, hundreds of wigeon, lapwing, goldies, a few ruff and a couple of out of place looking Black-tailed Godwit.

I moved closer to the watching group. The nearest guy had the bird and gracefully gave me instruction. I passed this on to the next guy to pitch up with his scope. Though the bird was distant and kept disappearing into hollows, it was distinguishable its commoner relatives. I would have stayed longer, but it was moving further and further off and meanwhile in the distance I could hear the approach of a train. Since this would be the only one stopping at the station for the next 2 hours I needed to be on it.

Having missed the train...

I arrived back in Norwich a couple of hours later. It was getting abit late for some sea watching at Sheringham, and so nothing for it but backto Lowestoft for the BTD, IG and PS, again!

A couple of Short-eared Owls on the way, bugger all else. It was getting darker as I got off at Lowestoft promising myself that this would be the last time I would be here for some time. Purple Sandpipers at the Ness first. As the furthest from the station and with the Iceland Gull en route.

OK make that not en route. Or on the way back en route, even from the top of the NCP car park en route, where the locals had been watching the bird. Who cares: got the Sandpipers.

Lake Loathing had disappeared into the gloom and was certainly not giving up any divers. I must admit I was tempted to return the next day and get the missing birds, that is until I worked out how even more useless the train connections were.

Sunday up and with as much breakfast as I could carry out from the hotel I got the first train to Sheringham. The weather looked a bit ominous, and snow-like. Got a Woodcock from the train (bonus tick).

A brief ten minute look at the sea before the coast hopper, and the first of the days continual movement of Red-Throated Diver, a couple of Long-tailedDuck (kerching), and auks. Then off to Holkham, targets including: Shore Lark, Eider, Lapland Bunting, Ringed Plover and a pleasant walk in familiar surroundings and who knows...

After a bit a of schlep the larks showed well, strangely with a Sanderling in tow. Odd to think that there are so few of these bird's in the country this winter compared with normal. But now the sea beckoned and rewarded.

Eider, Goldeneye, Mergs, Scoter, lots of wigeon, Slav Grebe, a Red-necked surprise bonus mega tick (and another I didn't see last year), Great Northern and a lone Little Gull feeding in the surf. I could have stayed all day and perhaps should have as Bradders picked up a Black Guillemot later that afternoon. Ah well I'll get some of them in Shetland.

The Lapland Bunting showed distantly in a big flock, disappointingly, but I got a Ringed Plover, which made me strangely elated. Funny old game this birding.

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