Sunday, 13 January 2008
In years gone by, when I was afflicted by pageritis, the last seven days would have been sheer hell. Last Sunday, an adult White-crowned Sparrow was announced as coming to seed on a pebble driveway in Cley village, after having been successfully lured away from the adjacent private garden. This was big news - pretty much every lister would need to see it. In many ways it would be even more desirable than a British first - unblocking another enigma. The problem was that such a rare bird would attract very big crowds and viewing was evidently limited as witnessed in several other blogs - I like this one: Newton Stringer I was definitely keen to see the bird but the earliest opportunity for me (without showing complete disregard for family, or hastily departing from or failing to attend work) was not until today. Not the first time I've contemplated either missing a bird completely or having to wait - but the difference these days was that I was not bombarded by constant jibing from the pager, and I really didn't give it much thought. I had to work on Saturday aswell, but by the evening I had checked online references and made plans to go see the bird. I really can't remember the last time I actually went birding in Norfolk, so other than picking up the sparrow I was also looking forward to a bit a general birding on the coast picking up a few species I've not seen for years. First stop of the morning was Roydon Common where a Great Grey Shrike is wintering. Sadly no sign of it after an hour so I then made my way to Cley. When I arrived there was still a sizeable crowd (c150) - despite the very heavy crowds on Monday and yesterday. The bird was still present but had not showed for about an hour. However, within minutes of arriving it was back in view and the well behaved throng was getting good views. Those who had seen it well moved on leaving space for the new arrivals - like me. The sparrow then very obligingly showed again within a couple of minutes - absolutely superb, a really stunning bird. I got excellent views and managed to get some very crap video footage (must find a way of getting it onto PC). I should have moved on but I was hoping to get some better footage. I did get more views, but all fleeting. By the time I left it was gone midday. Next stop was Salthouse. By now the weather was dull and blowy. A large Snow Bunting flock was showing well from the beach car park but they were very flightly and grilling them for Laplands was cut short when the whole flock buggered off. I managed to get some video before they went though. I then leisurely made may way to Wells, stopping en route to video Little Egret and Brent Geese. There were 100s of Brents along the Wells beach roadside and eventually I picked up a Black Brant amongst them. Whilst there I got news of a Lesser Snow Goose down the road south of Wells - however looking for this was (literally) a wild goose chase. Good to see masses of Pink-feet though. After a walk down Lady Anne's drive and onto Holkham Gap, it was getting too late to move further along the coast and I decided to head for home via Roydon again. Roydon has always been a disappointing raptor roost side for me so I was not too hopeful. As I pulled up though there was a small group actively pointing and scoping. I quickly sorted myself out and joined the group - there were 3 ringtail Hen Harriers up and they were soon all together in the same scope view. Seconds later I realised that the pointing and scoping from some in the group was not at the harriers, and it turned out that the shrike was in view on top of a gorse bush - excellent. A few minutes later and the ringtail count was up to four and they were joined by a superb male. An excellent way to finish the day.