Friday, 3 January 2014

Winter wanderings

My last day-off for the Xmas break and with Judith at work another opportunity for a bit of serious year-listing. After the south coast yesterday, and with the weather forecast set fair, I went east to Norfolk. Main targets were the winter waders and geese but my first stop was to try and get Richards Pipit. This is a bit of a bogey bird, as I have missed it on at least 4 occasions. It looks like a typical pipit - brown job - but is much larger than meadow pipits being almost thrush-sized. They are also very skulking.
One has been present at Kelling for some days so this was my first stop. I arrived as a storm blew over, so I got wet which was compounded by stepping onto what I thought was dry ground only to find myself knee-deep in swamp. To add insult to injury 90 minutes of searching in the company of three locals didn't turn up anything more than a few bullfinches in the hedge and a pair of stonechats.
So I now reverted to plan A, get some year-ticks. Quite quickly on the road towards to Titchwell,  I picked up pink-footed goose, white-fronted goose and Egyptian goose. The track towards Holme NOA gave up the usual tree sparrows in the hedge.
I was interested to see how badly Titchwell was harmed in the recent flood. Luckily it seems to have escaped relatively unscathed. The boardwalk to the beach is destroyed and the eastern dunes seem to be about 15 feet lower but otherwise the hides and marshes are all ok.
Bird-wise it produced all the usually expected birds. Waders included both godwits, sanderling, knot, lapwing, curlew, redshank, spotted redshank, ruff, grey and golden plover and dunlin. Ducks were pretty much all present, with the largest numbers of very smart pintails I think I've ever seen, probably around a hundred. On the sea common scoter numbered over a hundred, with flocks flying past frequently, and a small group of 3 velvet scoter showed well off-shore. Other highlights were a water pipit pottering about on the mud and a marsh-harrier cruising the marsh. Water rails were well represented and showing very well - I probably saw 4 or 5 individuals and one very well.
Together with a few common birds seen for the first time my year total stands at 107. Just shows what a bit of effort can do!!