The unsound approach

Autumn 2006


Saturday 9th

Holkham: at least 140% of the world's Pink-footed Geese were present, anihilating all in their path except the two Snow Gooze oblivious to all in their mixed race love bubble. Noticing some kind of Organised Outing unpacking themselves I slipped quietly to the beach as they were still triple securing their heads back on after the shock of the goose-fest. Strolling along I walked into a dozen Shore Lark. How peculiar, I thought, my trusty internet based Guides of Bird had not notified me of any present here prior to this occasion. rba however considered them present for a week. Sort it out, or something. The sea held the promise of rare duck and petrel running on empty but they weren't fulfilled today. 3 Little Gull, 2 Slav Grebe and a Red-necked Podiceps. Hmm. How to rip this blasted com pet tit ion out from under Dan's feet in 5 hours? What was that plan?

Ah, Burnham Norton. Not today though chaps. One Water Pipit on the muddy flashes, some duck, some goose, 2 Buzzard. O.K., buzz not actually at Norton but I'd stopped looking at the habitat in hand in order to find something amazing that was too far away to see. So I scanned the towering hills and was hugely disappointed to pick up two Buzzard miles away. Even from this range they were disappointingly Common. Might have got excited and if there was just one. Also 4 Marsh Harrier peeking over the horizon. After that calamitous stop I went a bit mad and drove to Thornham, incapable of stopping en route cos' I thought it was all crap. Pete Dolton was there with some colour-ringed Twite dangling around on the sea aster seed heads. Last ditch effort was a drive back to Warham, hoping for Pallid or something white chewing away on a Pink-foot. One Hen Harrier, some Little Egret and a Barn Owl back by the A149 were the closest I got.



Dragging crippled feet a stumbling sprawling mass ejects a bicyclist from it's midst amid screamed abuse. The threat is barely acknowledged. The lone rider calls back, "be there in half an hour, bunch of..." trailing off into the cold dark. Human forms become recognisable out of the fractious mass; some girls dissapate, pulling recalcitrant males from their posturing. "...and I'll wear your ass for a hat...". With that, Jessop Road is once more returned to the asbo hedgehogs and their pimping foxes.

Katherine and I found our house some time while it was dark. Fourteen milliseconds later Alex was at the door, his new found sobriety grating against Rich’s hazy inertia. I piled in. James had also been secured to a seat for the trip. Waking at some indeterminable place at some unfathomable time we found our legs did still work, though whether this situation would continue was uncertain. Rich was stuck in a moment, disassembling an offensively neat pile of low price paper shredders in order to ride around on the trolley they occupied. He forgot the second part of the plan when a punter came in and began trying to sell him a shredder. “I’m not buying anything from you” was the blunt but appropriate response. Turns out that was Reading. Sorry early morning service station personnel at Reading. It wasn’t like you had anything else to do.

Alex kept forging on, notching up further service stations for us to stand in and look confused. With dawn well out of the way some thoughts surfaced. With the help of the ever snap-happy Felicity Ansell some scenarios can be recreated.



Left:Always take your drink seriously. Middle left:And so it begins... Middle right: All blokes dispersed to a safe distance. Rihght: Ready for action


Dawlish soon appeared before Alex’s shuttered eyes. Fortunately Spacemasters are equipped with twitch detection equipment and we drove into the station car park and parked in the space that the British Transport Police had reserved for us. After making sure we had everything (teeth, binocular, trousers, Smirnoff hat, football, Alex) we braved the seafront.

And it was a sight. Millions of people pretending to like birds were patrolling the precipitous cliffs, heading in all directions just looking for a stray football to pop in their back pocket. Country bumpkins that we are, we figured that if we had a kick around and lost the ball on the beach we could go and have look at this ‘rare ocean wanderer’. Unbelievably it had been snaffled by the time we got back, a mere 78minutes.

Initial views were brilliant. The bird was easily distinguished from a herring by the distinctly smaller ears, not to mention the lack of flippers as it drifted about 16 nautical fences offshore. It ruined it later by propelling itself inshore at 43chains/nautical minute and feeding on the discharge from the shag on the breakwater. From a range of mere shrimplometers the hordes devoured any excitement the bird tried to throw our way. A little raised eyebrow here, maybe a minor head cock. They lapped it up. Truly a pro, working the crowd into a frenzy with a glorious swim-round-the-rock manoeuvre.

Perhaps to the disappointment of many we didn’t crash and burn on the way back. Thanks Alex, big implausible distance on no sleep post lcr driving. I've blanked the Tesco incident from my brain, though I made it out alive and with four cans of chopped tomatos.

I admit I was impressed with the murrelet skills. But could it have learned it all in Japan? Russia? Surely the showmanship had the hallmarks of the ultimate crowd-pleasers? Yep, North Korea stamped all over it. Just imagine 20,000 together, flicking those wings, twirling those sand eels. If you look at the pattern of occurrence (middle of Europe and scattered locations in the US including the east coast) we could be looking at the prototype ultimate smart bomb. Small, capable of immense long-distance travel both over land and underwater, cute enough not to attract suspicion and fat enough to stuff with plenty enough weapons grade plutonium to destroy the English Riviera. Oh, where’d it go...?


Friday 3rd

Sheringham. Almost adopted a Little Auk. I could just picture the darling splashing around in my bath, diving after 'Makes sense' pilchards in brine then dying hideously in a pungent fashion after knocking back a large Head & Shoulders. I figured it was best to palm it off onto a chap with all the kit for looking after wayward alcids: not only a woolly hat but also a camera bag, luxury accomodation even by Puffin standards. A bunch of Little Auk that could fly/swim also slipped past, while ex-dovekie was easy to find on the shoreline.


Wednesday 25th

Final opportunity for the River Nene to show what it can do and it was no let down. Big numbers of Pink-feet were evident from the start then as we got to the sea wall Owen picked a white goose about a mile and a half back. Too little time to put off the survey so we ignored for a few hours and scraped up whatever was present on the mud. Except for the bits of RAF Tornado, cos' they had their own guys to poke, shake their heads, suck in air through their teeth and say: "It'll cost ya...".

Count done Ian and I raced (read slid/waddled) back to the bank. Back at the lighthouse we checked the captive beauties and to our annoyance watched an adult and 1st winter Ross's Goose take flight and circle round the area. Dang we said, pondering on subtle issues surrounding the welfare of cute captive geese. But we persevered, surely the one we saw had been with Pinkies, and maybe further away? Driving slowly back along the east bank road a chink of light shone through the bramble and oak foliage, jarring against the foul cloud juice obscuring all else. Yes, there was a white goose in a shed load of Pinkies. It looked small and compact and concensus with the other chaps was that it was Ross's. Then the rain eased, the boy stood up and my scope stopped dribbling. Clearly a Snow Goose. Ah well, good enough. As Ian said: "now that's sorted it's time for tea and crumpets".


Thursday 19th

A high tide count at the River Nene in blazing sun and a light southerly. Obviously efforts to smuggle Twite down south succeeded: 80+ are now present on the saltmarsh by the sea wall. A 1st winter Arctic Tern was also present, casually flopping around on the mud and lurching unsteadily through the streams of Black-heads piling down the river. 1030 Brents today.

Post count Burnham Overy was too tempting. A Lapland Bunting was some reward, flying over myself on the sea wall and calling as it headed towards Scolt. Scratching around in the dirt at the end threw up a single Fieldfare, some Redwing, and two Blackcap.


Friday 6th - Saturday 14th

Shetland spectacular, see the special for some details.


Sunday 1st

Old school line-up for a classic day at the seaside. AC Lees, RD Moores, SP Mahood and myself struggled into Alex's Spacemaster late morning, with Rich coming off worst from last nights Optic exertions. After a stop at Holt Budgens for some shockingly bad food decisions Alex produced some toilet candy for Si, who consumed it with relish. Blakeney was obviously the only site for today, the constant southwesterly airflow, nice weather with hideous thunderstorms and no migrants marking it as high potential. 

As expected the passerines were largely absent, though three Song Thrush and three Wheatear revealed that it was still autumn. Too little for Si, who lost it near Long Hills. Having tolerated petulant unsteadiness combined with constant crappyness from his tripod for months it insulted him once too often and he ripped it apart with his bare hands. Rich needed a lie down after battling some sueda.Once we got to the plantation and found that was rubbish as well Si began disrespecting the Point. With some bits of tripod Rich leapt to it's defence, battering Mahood the unbeliever into the sand, and breaking his tripod leg. Video hopefully available soon. 

Lots happening on the sea, with 4 Manx Shearwater amongst a feeding frenzy of Arctic and Common Tern and bundles of Guillemot and Razorbill strewn about the water. One juv Pom was about again with about 12 Arctics. Minimum 12 Little Stint along the shingle, also a couple of Curlew Sandpiper bombed past. A random Stock Dove came in off from the west, landing up on the ridge near halfway after nearly ditching in the sea. Bird of the day was found at the death by Rich, a stunning Canada Goose alone on the sea off coastguards. They'll be racing down the west bank at dawn for that one tomorrow. 



Thursday 28th

Pre-work twitching today, decided that I should really see the juv Pallid Harrier near Winterton. Still a bit of a crowd on this, the sixth day it's been available. Couldn't see it from Collis Lane initially, so went around the east side and picked it up sat in a field looking amazing.


Sunday 24th

Simon Mitchell wanted to get some action this weekend, but after that I took him to Blakeney early morning for a long one. After yesterdays portents it was disappointing that we didn't even manage a Wheatear until halfway. One flash of exhilaration occurred at the Hood when 8 Song Thrush arrived off the sea through us and peirced the sueda, leaving us checking for flesh wounds. Totals were a meagre 4 Wheatear, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff. Once again a Pom Skua was close in after some terns and Arctics were stationed every 500m just offshore. Simon picked an adult winter Black-throated Diver from the seawatching hide, which was then joined by a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver. 

Went to Warham to repeat yesterdays wanderings but it seemed like a migrant free zone. Literally at the last bit of habbo we checked I booted a big pale pipit from the grass. Getting a bit excited we dashed to where it had landed and accidentally went too far, kicking it again. As it went it called 'schuep.....schup', TAWNY PIPIT! 

It was almost certainly a juv., with some streaking visible on the mantle. We followed it out onto the saltmarsh, crossing and recrossing creeks we couldn't even see from where we flushed it. With time running out (tide running in) we left the bird. Hearty congrats and crumpets for tea. Brilliant.   


Saturday 23rd

Bumped into James McCallum at Warham and we wandered around the area attempted to extract some migrants. One Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Garden Warbler and 10 Song Thrush were the result. The Pied Flycatcher had a hideously deformed beak, permanently bent open with the upper mandible pointing upwards. Didn't seem to have any trouble securing food, but preening didn't seem to work and it's plumage was looking a bit crap. Good luck chappie.

Pulled out a great record after this. Heard some strange wader-like call from way up, trawled the sky and locked onto a tight ball of 68 Black Tern, purposefully heading west. In a clear blue sky with evening light and a strengthening easterly it was a moment of tingling excitement. 


Wednesday 20th

Good week this, Abberton today. Score was one Wood Sandpiper, 4 Black-necked Grebe and 4 Garganey, with at least 15 Spotted Redshank on the putrifying algal 'islands'.


Tuesday 19th

Low tide count today at the River Nene mouth, once more a washload of waders, Merlin and Peregrine and the first 19 returning Brents (4 hung around all summer: disgraces to the species). When the data was safely in the boot and wellies were being changed I noticed some raptor disturbance back up at the river mouth. A juvenile Red Kite appeared, causing some excitement in my fellow counters, Owen Marks and Ian Barton. 


Saturday 16th - Monday 18th

Weekend away in Whitby eating cake and drinking tea with K in anticipation of getting old. Haven't quite got the hang of it: out pre-dawn coast bashing each day, but migrants few and far between up here. Totals of 4 Garden Warbler, 3 Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat and some Whitethroats. 2 Little Gull were a pleasant distraction from the end of the Whitby breakwater on Sunday morning. It seems I'm just not Dan.


Wednesday 13th

Titchwell at dawn. A Little Stint, three Curlew Sand. Sadly not the day the Pecs appeared. However, slightly less likely was the appearance of bbc film crew wanting to film from Island Hide. We agreed a fee for the appearance of my chiselled jawline as I used my equipment on the waiting waders. When Alan Titchmarsh arrived I scarpered, fearing I may not be able to control myself if he started speaking.

High-tide at the Nene mouth was agreeable as ever, with 7 Black Tern flitting, swooping and delighting in the tidal racing fish shoals by Big Tom.

Late Blakeney sadly didn't produce, clearly about to happen but all I saw was a juv Arctic Tern, one Whitethroat, one Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. A Black Tern slipped by heading east as well.


Saturday 9th

Thinking it might be great for some random close views of scarce I started at Sheringham in beautifully unlikely conditions. Quickly racked up two bonxies, so not as dead as the completely empty shelter would suggest. Best sight was the Kestrel I picked out well over a mile offshore and watched make landfall somewhere near Weybourne, shame it wasn't the much vaunted b-s k. Feeling that Kelling would have it's day soon I scoured the bushes and turned up a Pied Flycatcher, but not the Wryneck I was sensing. Still, it was enough to send me down the point kicking sueda. Low passerine value though, with 5 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. However non-passerine action revived flagging feet for the return journey, with a juvenile Pomarine Skua just offshore piling across the bank and into the channel for some Sandwiches before returning to the sea. A pile of Dunlin and Ringos along the beach got me chasing them back to the cafe, desparately trying to grill them before the couple struggling with an inadvised pushchair ran them into the stones. A lovely Little Stint was the pleasing reward. 


Thursday 7th

The other great day out in my work diary, counting the ducks at Abberton. Today I only found two Black-necked Grebe, but Wood Sandpiper had made it to up to three. Also 4 Garganey balancing unsteadily on the intoxicating floating mats of blue-green algae.


Tuesday 5th

After not seeing big predators and exciting cows in Poland I'm back at work, dodging jackknifing juggernauts on the M11 and chasing herps across bitumen felts near Milton Keynes. Today it's one the diamonds, low tide on the Wash with 7 juv Curlew Sandpiper, a Spotshank and almost six thousand birds present on site.


I'm excited. For the forth time in my life. Somewhere between picking my nose and thinking of games for the inaugral punkbirder sports season I realised that I've got the chance to sit in a Polish tree for five days over a ripe carcass. Can life be better? Yes. Why not stay at Sumburgh Head and squeeze inverts into megas dropping from the sky to weigh them down long enough to get the most gripping photes known to irate twicher types ('in the pot' photos really hit a nerve). The joy of this season is unbridled optimism at the best plans ever laid for autumn, with reality still safely distant. Reality. That colonic irrigator can piss right off.    



Saturday 26th

Mud straining and pit filtering at Snettisham with James. The upper levels only revealed three Curlew Sandpiper (including two juveniles), while the gravel layer held two Garganey, struggling to breathe above a rising tide of Knot and Redshank).

On the way to Titchwell a male Montagu's Harrier glided past, oblivious to anything except its belief in how great it looked.

At Titchwell we were the focus of an evil terrorist plot to destroy the best birders in Britain through the detonation of a massive bomb on the beach. Shocked that our own plan had been used against us we ran through shower of limbs and flying entrails to find that the culprits were the dastardly Germans. Using large brains and foresight they had accurately predicted where we would be on this fateful day, but our brave bomb squaddie boys had uncovered the plot and, using their patented Danger Turnstones, had swept the beach for our protection. We shall never forget those intrepid Arenarians. 

10 Curlew Sandpiper and a juvenile Little Stint on the freshmarsh.

Did Blakeney in the afternoon amid flying conspiracies and ever-absent confirmation. A sleepy Short-eared Owl was duly poked with a camera and the passerine haul only amounted to 5 Whinchat, two Wheatear and two Whitethroat. 6 Curlew Sandpiper zipped past along the shingle heading west and a Black Tern appeared in amongst a bunch of Black-heads above the plantation while we contemplated relative distance and lies.  


Wednesday 23rd

Back to Abberton Reservoir, and it's getting better. Found one Wood Sanpiper and three Black-necked Grebe in Wigborough Bay, likely to become a legendary birding location after Abberton becomes larger than Hungary. Scores of G'shank, with G'sand on backing vocals and C'sand cheering from the cheap seats round the skirt.

Saturday 19th

Big. With stuff peppering the northeast coast like in falls of yore we figured there just might be something worthwhile filter down, so Blakeney was pencilled in for later. But first James and I decided that some titting about on the saltmarsh was bound to turn up something great. Strangely it did. Getting out onto the mud beyond the saltmarsh a bunch of Ringo and Dunlin invited scrutiny and were Ringos and Dunlin. We started to walk out when a juv Marsh Harrier slipped across, noticed by all waders in the vicinity. As groups were flying around I suddenly noticed a larger wader with far too much forewing amongst some Dunlin and put my bins on the group. Hmm, I thought, that looks odd, all uniform and buffy, just like Buff-breast. At which point they landed and James shouted "Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Er, hang on, actually Curlew Sandpiper, er..." to which I replied "Shut up, it's a Buff-breast". "Crikey blimey, it really is dear chap". Classic.




Blakeney threw up 3-4 Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, a juv Whitethroat and about a dozen Willow Warbler - enough for a scarce, but we didn't get it.


Wednesday 16th

Went on trial. Not for crimes against Ardeidae but on the trial bank for work. zee wot ai did... Can you believe I get paid for this drivel? Hang on, no I don't. Have some more then. Just throw me a crappy Rudd now and again and I'll fly 1500 miles to be by your side. Right from Germany. Through the Netherlands. Over the North Sea. Even run the Gantlett gauntlet through TG04. And out over the Wash's nipple, over some jokers getting paid to count waders from two miles north of the seawall for 8 hours. They all love me. Cause I'm a sodding White Pelican. 

Ignoring the fact that subsequent events (and previous "prose") happened this was a massively exciting day. Walked out from the seawall at about 7 and headed for the bank. Had to curtail an Oystercatcher count when I noticed the tide moving the birds closer to the island with still half a mile before Ian and me got there. We made it, but half an hour later the waters enclosed us. Then it was just us, some thousands of gulls, gulls with botulism, gulls without intestines and 14.7billion greenbottles. Immense. While the tide was in the counts were slow, so we entertained ourselves looking for the White Pelican that was heading our way from north Norfolk. Remarkably I did find it, at about half eleven, miles away. Very slowly it circled round heading west, gave some great views and was lost to sight just past midday. An adult Black Tern also jinked it's way past the island: clearly a pointworthy record.      

Sunday 13th

Sacked it off, can't think about that right now.


Saturday 12th

With seawatch written large in the late night bbc forecast I took Rich to the seaside at Sheringham and did some. After an emergency load reduction operation I settled in and the birds flowing nicely. The first of 8 Sooty Shearwater went by and eventually I picked three Bonxies. Due to prior engagements the 'session' was always going to be short and Rich was delivered safe but hungover back into the loving arms of his cricketing family. 


Tuesday 8th

Started the day with a pleasant low tide count at the Nene mouth, with tremendous Kestrel density being a highlight (22 visible at once over the saltmarsh). Finshed the survey by half two so I cleared off to Titchwell for an assualt on the north coast. Loped towards Island Mere but before I got there noted a distant harrier type that I deemed worthy of optical investigation. Indeed it proved to be an adult male Montagu's Harrier, flapping about beyond Gypsy Lane. It headed at altitude towards the freshmarsh then sorted it's life out and cleared off over the fields heading southwest. Well, it's a find of some kind. As I had the scope up I checked out 'reedbed pool', unearthing 2 Garganey that had also not been reported previously. In the hide I regaled Robin Chittenden with the classic tale from a couple of Saturday past: where a couple of ultra pro mega digi ultimate camera types went crazy as six Egyptian Geese majestically took the the air and I felt a bit ill. He looked pensive and said he hadn't got any Egyptian Goose shots but he'd got some beautiful Greylags. I left. I remembered a plan I'd had earlier on and acted on it. The plan was complex but boiled down to Burnham Norton. 

I arrived at the car park about 17:15 and began strolling along the central track. A few Swift passed over so I kept checking the great above. Only about a hundred metres past the metal gate an egret slipped into my vision, about 15m above the pools that you can't see and heading straight for me. It didn't look Little so I got my bins out and a CATTLE EGRET appeared in them, dropping in amongst the bullocks in the field in front of me. Massive excitement welled up and I grabbed my phone to call Rich with the news. As I did hideous deja vu kicked in, recalling a Cattle Egret prancing around amongst cows in a field less than a mile away last year. That was one of the mass escape: could this be the same? 

Rich informed me the last report of the escapee was 11th November 2005, and James recalled loads of buff on it. The bird in front of me had no buff apparent at all, and with good views in flight and on the deck the legs were satisfyingly ring-free. It still had to go out as unknown origin though, in case the escape had evaded detection for nine months along the most heavily birded coastline in Britain. I left the bird a bit frustrated with nothing more I could do. Katherine had taken our camera to the Isle of Wight to track bats (talented camera) so I couldn't even record shoot. I went to the sea wall for a bit but couldn't find any more rares. When I returned along the track Tim Allwood was there with his girlfriend. After a few minutes searching (it can be hard to see through unfistulated cattle: Tim saw it stick it's head up from a divot. It saw us and decided that was too much exposure, lifting off and dropping back onto the pool out of sight. It's clearly a great bird.

Calmed down sat by the visitor centre at Cley. At 19:45 7 Spoonbill appeared, the birds from Titchwell (I saw them earlier, couldn't be bothered to mention them), and drifted onto Arnold's area.         


Saturday 5th

Off with the Mahood to the north. We began with an examination of Kelling Quag. Totals:  . Did we miss anything? no. Arnold held a first summer Arctic Tern and some Spotshanks, while a Wood Sandpiper entertained a Dunlin on the Serpentine.

Nothing on Stiffkey, nothing at Norton. Went back to Norwichbut decided we couldn't leave it there so tried Rush Hill. 3 Common Sand, 3 Greenshank, 2 Golden Plover and no rare.


Friday 4th

Got back to Norwich from Marsh Harrier vp's near Scunthorpe with enough time to sneak out to Rush Hill. In doing so I felt that something unusual would be present, and although I was right I was still disappointed. A 2nd year Mediterranean Gull was present amongst the gulls, and hiding amongst the Canada's was an adult Lesser White-front. Goose sh*t. 3 Greenshank, 2 Green Sand, 18 Ruff, no Dunlin, some Blackwit.




Saturday 29th

Not a Marsh Sand.

Did some classic birding with me Dad today; we went straight to Snettisham and followed it with Titchwell. The former looked outrageously good, with Spotshanks and Curlew Sands appearing and disappearing in rivulets and thousands of Dunlin present to grill steadliy in the medium heat. Aside from the aforementioned and an Arctic Skua bothering terns excitment was not forthcoming. Well aware of DB and his score I strained the mud, double scoping to ensure optimal coverage. One 2nd year Med Gull was the result.

Titchwell was amazing as always. Waders were so close locals were lining up to have their associated fauna removed by the gentle probing of Wood and Common Sandpipers, with Snipe on standby for more extreme cases. Two Spoonbill were tastefully arranged next to a mid-distance island. Common Scoter were on the sea, anchored in the usual area, and a couple of adult Arctic Skua 'had a go' at some Sandwich Terns. All good fodder for the imagination of the next generation Great entertainment on the way back: when we realised England were about to beat Pakistan we stopped at the Railway Inn, Docking to see the final wicket. Locals had clearly spent all day drinking Pimm's and were good value for the duration of a pint of Woodfordes Reserve.



Thursday 27th July

Back to Abberton, numbers building up so I'm on the job. 3 Garganey between the causeways with a Ruff and two adult summer Little Gull over the main reservoir were the birds of note. Also 12 Greenshank, 8 Green Sand and numerous Common Sand, and a Hobby desperate for some bird flesh very close behind the latter. 


Monday 24th July

Liked the idea of spending ages at Rush Hill so after dropping K off at uni I went and sat on the hide. A lone Golden Plover among the Lapwing entertained my imagination but was stubbornly European. A Knot and a Green Sandpiper were the best waders, but it looked like anything could drop in among the 16 Dunlin and 40 Ruff. Of course it had, but had cruelly snubbed my line of vision in preference of a private showing at Coot Swim. So close. Still blissfully unaware I watched some admirals on honeysuckle. 


Sunday 23rd July

Sloped east with Jez the Bird after a lazy morning recovering from the Dan/Hannah bbq perfomance last night. Great chair choreography. Martham was close to remarkable. 2 Dunlin, a Greenshank, Turnstone of the year (immaculate), 4 Ringed Plover and 3 Snipe viewed from oak tower hide. 9 Whimbrel almost landed, but decided not to mess with the flappy fledgling Marsh Harriers and headed towards the coast. Jez saw some Crane. Waxham Beach was still the coldest place in Norfolk, bizarrely, but packed with those making holiday. 7 Whimbrel were displaced from the southernmost rock island by a kayak and headed south. We followed, arriving at the south wall of Breydon about three. 271 Dunlin were scoured, filleted and grilled but it was sadly a single species grouping. Most interest was diverted to Stratiomys singularior for looking cool.   


Two seasons, only two seasons, two is all you need. Scuttling for cover in a moist dark crevice I persuade myself that this can't last. Classic summer fare is all rubbish, how can anything be rare in good weather? Escape, escape the only way you can. A tightly rolled twenty, chase up the apple branch a million aphids shot across your nasal membranes. Feeling great. No grosbeak issues here.


Friday 21st July

After a couple of days mooching about Grain for the sake of the reptiles it was straight back out for the bats with Katherine tonight. First site was quickly abandoned when it became clear it was the scene of a ferecious gun battle (farmers vs. lagomorphs). A Quail flew across on the way back to the car, fleeing the encroaching shells. First actual view for four years.


Got the bat listeners out at the next site fine, unfortunately the local foxes found the kit hugely entertaining and spread the detector, minidisk and data logger over a 20 square metre area. Chewed right through the cable, and detached it. No love for the fledermaus.  

Lepidoptera trapping pulled in Black Arches and White Satin Moth, both new for the garden, also Vapourer and Light Arches.


Saturday 15th July

Woke late this morning after bat/ball frenzy last night. Thought it looked like a perfect day for a Caspian Tern at Breydon. Looked at Birdguides and there was a Caspian Tern at Breydon. I went anyway. It had cleared off by the time I got there, leaving Golden Holden and Vicky in its wake. The scene of Holden dipping was ruined shortly after however, when I picked up the bird returning from Berney way. It dropped onto the spit of mud for ten minutes or so then cleared off northeast, towards North Denes. One Roseate Tern was also around, but the haze was wader prohibiting, shy of a couple of nearshore Whimbrel. A Cuckoo delighted dipping dudes with repeated flying at their heads. Essex Skippers were a distraction to many, due to hyper-abundance.      


Sunday 2nd July

A singing Quail flew over the garden at 00:10 as I stood over my moth trap, causing me to boot a Swallow-tailed Moth onto a Thorn as I raced to tell K (who was mildly interested).