Norfolk Excursion

Friday 16th - Saturday 17th November 2012
Black-bellied Dipper at Thetford
I spent a fantastic couple of days in Norfolk on Friday and Saturday with Mark, basing ourselves in Sheringham. Our adventure started at Thetford on Friday morning, where the BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER was showing well by the old Bridge Pub, a cracking bird and a first for us both.
Little Auk at Cley
We then headed for NWT Cley Marshes. Highlights on the main reserve included a Marsh Harrier and 1000+ Brent Geese (all the Brents we saw were the Dark-bellied form). The star bird I found at the beach though, a LITTLE AUK, which was feeding close in for most of the time; also a lifer for us. Also Red-throated Divers, a Razorbill, a flock of  c200 Chaffinches came in off the sea containing at least one Snow Bunting, six Blackbirds flew in off the sea and immediately landed behind the beach, plus two Grey Seals.
Little Auk again
A further view of the Little Auk
It was then time to head for the Broads, and the main reason for me originally planning a trip to these parts in the winter. After parking at Hickling Broad, we walked to Stubb Mill, arriving at the watch-point at around 3.30pm. It had been a gloomy, misty day, and it was already starting to get dark. Whilst waiting for the main attraction we were entertained by a range of raptors; we spotted at least 15 Marsh Harriers, a Hen Harrier, three Merlins and a Barn Owl. Eventually, after hearing the occasional tantalising distant call, at 16.05, the first four COMMON CRANES, materialised out of the grey mist. We watched these land, at first partly in view. Then between 16.20 and 16.30pm, another four small groups came in; 16 in total, a fantastic experience, and a great end to day one.
Common Cranes coming in to roost at Dusk, Stubb Mill
Pink-footed Geese, Kelling
Day two started off dull and overcast. We started by scanning the sea from Sheringham seafront for 20 minutes, picking out an Eider, a Red-throated Diver, and two Common Scoter. Fifteen Turnstones were on the rocks below us and eight Pink-footed Geese flew over the town.We worked west along the coast throughout the day, ignoring the temptation of nearby rarity finds to look for our own. First stop was near Kelling, to view a field where c2000 Pink-footed Geese and two Egyptian Geese were feeding. A sea watch at Salthouse produced a BLACK-THROATED DIVER, five Red-throated Divers, three Guillemots, and three Common Scoter; c30 Turnstones were around the car park.
Grey Partridge, Holkham
At Holkham, four Grey Partridges were in a field beside Lady Ann's Drive, but only small numbers of geese. There were a lot of people around and we didn't see too many birds on the saltings apart from 30 Brent Geese and c50 Skylarks; a thorough search among the latter didn't yield anythings else apart from a few Meadow Pipits.

At Titchwell, the main attraction was the beach. Another BLACK-THROATED DIVER, a RED-NECKED GREBE, 10 Eiders, three Red-breasted Mergansers and five Red-throated Divers were the highlights, whilst on the beach waders included Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Sanderlings, Dunlin, Grey Plover, and Curlew, plus Brent Geese, all lit up beautifully in the afternoon sunshine. On the reserve we noted a Spotted Redshank, and c300 Golden Plover, and a smart male Brambling was at the feeders by the visitor centre.
Bar-tailed Godwit, Titchwell
Brent Geese, Titchwell
We ended the day at Snettisham. From the minor road leading to the reserve a field contained 37 Egyptian Geese; we'd seen small numbers at various sites before. We arrived at the shoreline as the sun was going down providing a stunning sunset over the inter-tidal mud flats. By the time we got back to the car park dusk was turning to night, but the sky was full of geese, lines and lines of countless thousands of Pink-footed Geese, going to roost on The Wash; this was a staggering site, and a great way to end our trip.
Sunset over The Wash at Snettisham

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