Sunday, 24 November 2013

Close but no cigar

I wanted to get out reasonably early so I could make it home for Ireland versus New Zealand rugby match at 2pm. I left Norwich at 8.30am, stopping briefly near Edgefield to watch this Red Kite.

Red Kite, Edgefield, Norfolk - 24th November 2013
I arrived at the Holt Country Park for a second stab at the Parrot Crossbills just after 9.30am and my luck was in because the flock was showing well atop one of the larches. A good crowd had gathered and decent views of the birds were had by all. Photos were never going to be anything other than record shots but at least you can see the heavy bill and broad neck on this female.

Female Parrot Crossbill, Holt CP, Norfolk - 24th November 2013
So that's three species of Crossbill ticked in the UK this year. Identification of these ones was a little more straightforward than the Two-barred Crossbills from a few weeks ago. Eventually the flock took flight, I reckoned at least ten birds present and great to hear their disticntive calls as they flew over. Brought me back to last August in Kolka, Latvia where I had seen my first ever Parrot Crossbills.
With the Crossbills taken care of by 10.30am, I needed to decide on my next move. I drove over to the car park at Cley coastguards, intending to check what was out on the sea. En route I briefly stopped at the Cley visitor centre, but nothing caught my eye in the log. At coastguards the sea was rough and the wind straight into my face. I wasn't prepared to do a sea-watch, so I decided to drive over to Titchwell where several Twite had been reported along the beach. I checked Wells harbour along the way in case the northerly wind had pushed any decent grebes or sea duck into the sheltered inlet, but nothing was doing there.
Keeping an eye on the time, I headed straight from the carpark at Titchwell to the beach, stopping only briefly to look for Bramblings on the visitor centre feeders. This male was the only one I saw.

Male Brambling, RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk - 24th November 2013
Once I reached the beach I started walking west. However I met a couple coming in the opposite direction who told me they had been further on and had no Snow Buntings or Twite at all. I hadn't time to keep walking so I decided to re-trace my steps and see if there were any on the eastern side of the beach. I was in luck and managed to find a small flock of about seven Snow Bunting feeding along the edge of the sea wall. Unfortunately no sign of any Twite but the the Buntings were reasonably approachable and I managed few decent shots.

Snow Bunting, Titchwell beach, Norfolk - 24th November 2013
By now there was no way I was going to make it home for the 2pm kick-off. I decided to head up to Choseley Barns to look for Corn Buntings. As I sat in the car opposite the farm buildings having my lunch, a flock of finches flew into the hedgerow. It was a large flock and although I couldn't pick out any Corn Buntings in it, it must have been mostly Brambling with the odd Chaffinch thrown in. Don't think I've ever seen a flock of that many Bramblings away from continental europe.
Just as I was leaving the area I managed to find commentary of the Ireland / All Blacks match on the radio. As Ireland went 19-nil up I raced back to Norwich to see the game live. In case you don't know, in the dying seconds of the game, New Zealand scored a try to rob Ireland of their first ever win against the All Blacks in 108 years of trying. Close, as they say...........but no cigar!


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