Thursday 28 August 2014

Just glad to be birding

It would be an understatement to say the last few weeks have been difficult. On Sunday night, Polina's dear Mum finally succumbed to the cancer which she had been fighting so bravely for the past six months. We're both heartbroken and will miss Nina terribly. Having a dying person at home is both frightening and inspiring, in almost equal measure. To see the person suffer is heart-breaking, but to see their bravery, spirit and dignity in all of this was profound. To receive such kindness and support from friends, neighbours and carers was overwhelming and humbling.
I write this because I want to put today's birding into context. I had a very enjoyable day out. By any standards it was a great day. Great views of some very nice autumn migrants and some decent photos to boot. It lifted my spirits after all the events of the past few days. It doesn't fix things but as I sat in the rain, soaked right through watching a smart Red-back Shrike, I felt extremely lucky and thankful for being alive and being healthy. I have Nina to thank for that, amongst many other things.
So what of the birding then!!
Up early and walked the Nelson's Head track from 8am. I had two Whinchats and two Common Whitethroats with about five Wheatears near the container. I turned right and headed towards Winterton North Dunes to try for the long-staying male Red-backed Shrike. Past the pine plantation, he was easy to locate. I enjoyed decent and close views for fifteen minutes before heavy rain meant a disappearing trick. I sat and waited for his return as the the water slowly soaked through my light water-proofs and wet me right through. In truth, I had forgotten a rain cover for my lens so needed to use my jacket to keep it and my camera dry - hence the thorough wetting.

Red-backed Shrike, Winterton North Dunes, Norfolk - 28th August 2014
As I waited for the shrike to reappear, I was briefly entertained by a female Common Redstart, several Whinchats and two Common Whitethroats.

Whinchat - decent numbers of these around today.
After an hour and a half, I decided to go and look for theshrike. I relocated it about three hundred yards further on. I tried for a few more shots but by now I was starting to feel chilled and what is more my gear was getting wet. I got one more photo of the shrike (who himself was looking a bit soggy) and headed back along the track to the car for coffee and a chicken sambo.

Shrike in the rain - Winterton, Norfolk
En route back, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine. Nick Watmough texted to say that a Wryneck was being reported from the SE corner of the southern section of GY cemetery. With no report of the bird seen yesterday near the totem pole at Winterton north dunes, I decided to head to Great Yarmouth.
At the cemetery I met a couple more birders and with five pairs of eyes, we relocated the bird feeding on a flat stone slab. Initial pictures were sketchy but I did manage a couple of decent shots when it landed on a path in front of me as I turned to leave.....lucky!

Wryneck, Great Yarmouth Cemetery, Norfolk - 28th August 2014
I tried the north section for ten minutes to try and locate a Pied Flycatcher but by now I was a little tired and felt it would be better to call it a day and be happy with what I had seen.

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