Sunday, February 18, 2007

Norfolk - again...

Saturday was very enjoyable, and it turned out that Sunday was, too. Good job, because it's Darren's birthday!

Started off with a pre-breakfast walk around Hickling. Not terribly productive, but saw Barn Owl hunting and heard [invisible] Marsh Harrier displaying and Bearded Tit 'pinging'.

Next stop, Caistor

The flock of 60 Snow Buntings reported at the north end of town yesterday had increased to 85 this morning.

Many of these birds were colour-ringed. Having looked on the website, it looks likely that they were ringed at Caistor itself but of course I'll submit the combinations to the BTO so it's all official.

A short hop down the coast into Great Yarmouth found 20 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach between the piers.

Decided to go home the long way, round the coast road. Stopped at Salthouse, where the first-winter Glaucous Gull had been seen (saw it at Cley last weekend), but I spotted a guy digiscoping something on the shingle and went to investigate. Eventually, through the heat-haze (!), a flock of Snow Buntings appeared.

To start with, I was watching the bloke and thinking, 'wish I had my digiscoping kit with me' (I was just carrying the new camera, and my bins). The birds were a bit too far away for DSLR-action. Then, someone walking along the shingle bank flushed them and they wheeled round and landed right in front of me! Bingo! My lucky day...

These birds were stupendously tame. I was pleased when they first flew in, but they kept coming closer and closer. Eventually, the closest birds got to within about four feet of me! To be honest, they were a bit too close for photography, but it was a fantastic experience.

The reason they came so close was because someone had baited the area with wheat. While the Snow Buntings flew off for a while, a gaggle of Turnstones flew in from behind me and landed in the same spot as the buntings had!

I really like Turnstones. They're very characterful. While the flock (of about 10 birds) pecked away, I listened to their conversational chattering to each other and the sound of the pebbles being flipped over.

You can see its bill is curved to one side for stone-turning, and there's a pebble in mid-air just next to it!

By this stage, I felt a bit like the Bird Lady from Mary Poppins (not good; I was made to sing it in a gangshow when I was about 11 and have never quite recovered).

Restored barn, Thornham

Ended the day at Holme Dunes NNR. While Darren watched the sea, I pottered around looking for photo opportunities. This flock of Knot (with Dunlin and Ringed Plover hangers-on) was about all there was.

Knot, led by Ringed Plover

Mussel shell

rippled sand, Holme Dunes NNR

Walking back to the car park, D muttered 'all we need now is a Jack Snipe and a Short-eared Owl'. Not sure why he mentioned those two species, but as we walked along the edge of one of the pools, a Lapland Bunting flew up!

Not a bad end to the day.
photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, Extender EF 1.4x II

1 comment:

  1. Your photos are sensational, Katie. I'm amazed at how close you got to those buntings.