Sunday evening, May 9, 2010
Wow, I had an amazing day of birding today.
I slept well last night, and local birders Peter and Sue picked me up here at 8 this morning. I had managed not to fall on the step down out of the bathroom last night. We’ll see if I can continue to avoid that little pitfall. I left a light on, which made it easier to see the step and also served to remind me to watch out for it.
The first place Peter and Sue took me is a pond or “scrape” called Stiffkey Fen. It was a 12 or 15 minute walk to get there from where we parked, and I would never have found it on my own. There weren’t a lot of birds there, but Peter and Sue had really done their homework on my list, and they had seen 2 or 3 species there recently that I needed. There were a couple of Little Gulls there, but they were snoozing, with their heads tucked under their wings, so we decided we would try to see them better on our way back. There was also a Little Ringed Plover (lifer) there, and I had pretty good distant views of him.
We moved on from there to a place to look out over Blakeney Harbour, with the tide pretty well out. The birds were pretty distant, but they
found 4 more species for me there. Nothing especially unusual, but ones I
hadn’t seen before in Britain, although I had seen all four in North
America. Then, on our way back to the car, when we went past Stiffkey Fen again, the Little Gulls had moved, and we found them flying around. I had really outstanding views of them, both flying and on the ground. I later decided that they were the “bird of the day” for me, as they were very attractive little gulls and I had such great views of them. Then, before we moved on, a Little Ringed Plover flew in and landed quite close to us. I had really excellent views of him, which was great, as the earlier views were pretty distant. And, before we left that place, they also spotted a Pink-footed Goose, another bird they had seen there earlier in the week. There are tens or hundreds of thousands of them here in the winter, but most have moved north by now, so I was lucky to see one. By the time we left that first site, I had added 7 species to my trip (Britain) list, of which three were lifers. Before they had picked me up, I had told myself that if I saw three new species for my trip list today, I would be quite pleased, so we were off to a super start. I was very impressed how carefully and thoughtfully they had looked at my spreadsheet and had chosen our sites for the day, based on that.
Next we went to one of the premier birding reserves in Britain, Cley Marsh. (Cley is pronounced to rhyme with “eye”) It is the place I had gone yesterday to get some lunch, in the steady rain and wind. Our goal there was Temmincks Stint, a tiny wader that is only a vagrant to Britain. Three of them had been seen in recent days. We found that they had been reported at a particular location, and we carried our scopes out there to look. We saw them almost at once. They were very distant, but based on their size and what I could see of them, as well as the reports over the last week by birders much more expert than I am, I was willing to tick them for my lists.
Before we left Cley, we walked out on the East Bank track to look for Bearded Tit, the species I had not seen at Minsmere after 45 minutes in the cold wind. Almost right away we saw them flying, and I ended up getting several very nice views of them, including a brief view of a perched one.
After that we went to a place called Felbrigg Hall, where we had our lunch on a picnic table near the car park. We had brought sandwiches with us. I had a nice thick ham and cheese one (thank you, Waitrose, for the ingredients), and Sue had brought some very nice homemade cakes (I would have called them scones, I suppose).
We then looked around that area for woodland birds, and I picked up Nuthatch, but missed on Firecrest, a difficult little bird to see, although both Peter and Sue heard them. I also had great views of a couple of Mandarin Ducks, an introduced species from China that is very colorful, and reminiscent of our Wood Duck.
Total count for the day – 11 species for my trip list, of which about 7 were lifers. Grand totals so far – 129 species, of which about 92 are lifers. It is obviously going to keep getting harder and harder to add more, although there are ones coming up in Wales and Scotland that don’t live in the places I have been so far, so I will certainly add some still. Today went way beyond my expectations, though.
We had seen the places that Peter and Sue had planned on, and I was getting tired, so they dropped me off back here at my cottage at about 3:30 or 4:00. I rested for a while, and then walked around the village of Sharrington and took a few pictures, including a couple of bird pictures. One of them was of a young Moorhen, at the edge of a pond right here at Daubeney Hall Farm, where I am staying.
I caught up on internet stuff and processed my pictures from yesterday and today, then had my humble Waitrose dinner (chicken and dumplings casserole, chicken Tikka pieces, and broccoli). Very Zone friendly, except for the Scotch and wine I consumed, and the cookies for dessert.
Oh yes, that reminds me of my experience with my scale this morning. You may remember that I brought along my old bathroom scale, and that I had planned on getting on it this morning. Well, I did so, and the first time I got on it, I was very pleased. I had weighed in at 265 pounds when I left home last week, and my first reading this morning was 260. Could that be right? Could I have actually lost five pounds in ten days? Well, no, that wasn’t possible, but that scale isn’t all that accurate or that repeatable, so I thought I would average several readings, moving the scale slightly each time, in case it wasn’t completely level. Well, the subsequent readings made it obvious that the scale has packed it in. The travel had broken it. I got readings as low as 250 pounds, which is ridiculous. I guess I just have to throw it away and not know what I weigh until I get home. I feel good, though, and I plan to continue to eat sensibly, keeping in mind my needs, as I have discovered them over the last year. So, my big weigh-in was a bust, and the scale is toast.
So, tomorrow I plan to visit the other big reserve here, Titchwell. I have a list of birds to look for there, and it will be very interesting to see how many I can see and identify, if any. Then I plan to drive on a little farther to see a seabird called a Fulmar that nests on some cliffs not too far away. I want to ramble around on my own for one day here, and then another couple is supposed to take me out on Tuesday.
It was pretty cold this morning, and the wind was still blowing in from the north. This afternoon the clouds mostly cleared away, though, and it was really quite pleasant, although not exactly warm – low 50’s F, I imagine. There was no mention of rain in the forecast, but I noticed tonight that it had been raining lightly, about 8 PM, so I don’t know if tomorrow’s forecast of slightly better weather is still good or not. All will be known in the fullness of time, as always.
So, there is another update. I will see if I can get this up on the website, along with Photos07.