I spent New Years Eve afternoon travelling to my overnight digs near Kings Lynn, a Travel Lodge in Long Sutton. A few early pints then bed although the fireworks did wake me up at midnight. Bah. Anyway, an early start saw me driving through Thornham village at 06.40 and the first bird everyone sees in the morning (unless you are licky enough to have an owl) are Pink-footed Geese. I never get fed up of watching them come and go from their roosts.
1-1-11, Titchwell RSPB.
This place always amazes me with the birding here. Its a very public and busy place but you can soon get a list of birds going. I have never done Norfolk on New Years Day and was expecting hoards of year listers being here to knock the easy ones off. Boy I was wrong. I arrived in the car park at 06.45 and there was two other cars!!! Ideal. I was in Norfolk for two whole days and the plan was Titchwell for the morning and then a drive to Stubbs Mill for dusk. I finally left Titchwell at 12.30 and birds noted were Wood Pigeon, Pink-footed Geese, Robin, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Moorhen, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Great Bittern, Black-headed Gull, Starling, Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Curlew, Reed Bunting, Redshank, Shoveler, Carrion Crow, Knot, Brent Geese, Lapwing, Ruff, Great Black-backed Gull, Egyptian Geese, Shelduck, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Grey Plover, Herring Gull, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Coot, Hen Harrier, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Scoter, Rock Pipit, Goldeneye, Velvet Scoter, Snipe, Common Gull, Pheasant and Dunnock. By this time I was back at the cafe enjoying a cup of tea, hot cornish pasty and a kitkat. I always walk the path first up to the beach, sea watch, come back for toilet, tea, food etc then head back out again. This time I was tipped off about a couple of birds I needed to see. Birds noted were Water Rail (I didnt get one last year and one was showing in a ditch and under the feeders), Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Bearded Tit, SHORE LARK (Lifer no 305), Great Crested Grebe, Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser, Eider, Avocet, Linnet, Ringed Plover, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Rook, Wren, Littel Egret, Gadwall and Meadow Pipit. What a cracking way to start the new year. I love this place and I think the new Parrinder Hide is a cracking hide.
One of the hardest birds to see today was the Wren. To put a new bird on the year list it has to be seen . Once seen, heard will do and these little bleeders can be easily heard but hard to see somedays, this being one of them, Bearded Tit was easier!!
1-1-11, Stubbs Mill.
Its almost a two hour drive from Titchwell to Stubbs Mill and on the way I added Jackdaw, Kestrel, Jay and Fieldfare to the year list. I arrived in the Hickling Broads car park at about 14.30 and then had a good twenty minute walk to the viewing point at Stubbs Mill. If you dont know, Stubbs Mill is THE place to see Common Cranes. They, plus many raptors, use this area to roost. I have been here on a few occasions, but in October time, and never seen the Common Cranes. Hopefully today was the day. There was a few people there for the roost but not as many as I was expecting. I had noted down Black-headed Gull, Fieldfare and Jackdaw as I was walking from the car. I set up the scope on the mound and a chap said there were three cranes over there. Scope up and I had three COMMON CRANES (lifer 306). I enjoyed them for a while before settling down for the raptor roost. it was pretty slow but towards the end a few bonus birds turned up for the list. Other birds noted were pink-footed Geese, Blackbird, Robin, Snipe, Marsh Harrier (I eventually od'd on thses as there was at least thirty birds perched in various trees), Stonechat, Carrion Crow, Redwing, Wood Pigeon, Cormorant, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Magpie, Sparrowhawk, Wren, Kingfisher, Woodcock and Tawny Owl.
A great end to a pretty unforgetable day.