Monday, 1 April 2013

Some signs of spring on the east Norfolk coast

Its April already, the clocks have gone forward, Easter is all but finished and I still haven't seen a Wheatear or even any Hirundines. Hard to believe. But that's the sort of winter its been.
Not to be deterred though, myself and Nick Watmough met up at 8am this morning in Norwich and headed for the coast to look for migrants.
First stop was Bure Park in Great Yarmouth where a Garganey had been reported the previous day. British summer-time had officially started but it still felt Baltic as we got out of the car.
As is customary at this stage, a Barn Owl put in an appearance hunting along the ditch in front of the car park. Norfolk really seems to be a stronghold for this species. Within five minutes we had located a Garganey pair sleeping along the edge of a small pool along with some Pochard. A summer migrant at last. The bird got a little spooked as we approached, I got a few snaps before leaving it be. On the way out of Bure Park I noticed a row of Daffodils with their heads still closed, hard to believe on the 1st April.

Garganey, Bure Park, Great Yarmouth - 1st Aprl 2013
So we were off to a good start. Next stop was Winterton allotments, but sadly nothing of note there.
I stopped briefly along the road out of Winterton to snap this Red-legged Partridge in a ploughed field, Nick assures me I'll grow tired of them in time but for the moment they're nice to see.

Red-legged Partridge - near Winterton, Norfolk
We continued on towards Horsey, parked up and began checking the pathway around the dunes hoping for the first Wheatear but here too was quiet. At the caravan park we did dig out one and possibly two White Wagtails but that was it. We fantasized about Shrikes, Wrynecks and all sorts of other stuff but it was not to be.
We drove on to Sea Palling where a large gull flock in recent days had included Med, several Glaucous and Caspian Gull(s). When we got there the flock had spread out, many of them were loafing out on the water with some on the reefs. The best we could pick out was a 1st winter Kittiwake. Not a bad bird for the area I'm told, but Caspian would have been nicer.

1st winter Kittiwake, Sea Palling, Norfolk - 1st April 2013
We headed back to the car for our lunch and agreed that it may be better to give up on the migrant front and head to Buckenham to see if we could locate some Little Ringed Plover.
We parked at the train station and walked up to the hide, three Ruff, several Dunlin, two Redshank and two or three Ringed Plover were the best here. Sadly no sign of any LRPs. Wigeon numbers are still high in the fields either side of the road though.

Eurasian Wigeon - Buckenham Marshes RSPB - 1st April 2013
And the Lapwing are starting to get frisky.

Lapwing, Buckenham Marshes RSPB - 1st April 2013
Just as we were leaving another birder put us onto a Water Pipit, views were distant but always a good bird to see. With time wearing on we decided to call it a day and headed back to Norwich.
So that wraps up my Easter birding. The winter weather continues but I had two lifers (Grey Partridge and Tawny Owl) and several additions to my UK list (Great Grey Shrike, Red-legged Partridge, Garganey and Water Pipit). Hopefully the spring migs will start to trickle in soon!

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