Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Simeon and I decided to go for what is probably the last birding trip of the year, down to the coast for a spot of seawatching. Our first stop was Denver Sluice to attempt to relocate Saturday's Firecrest, as I really wanted to see it through optics. However, we wanted to get on so didn't try particularly hard, and left after picking up 3 Goosander.

10 minutes down the road was Tottenhill GP's where we checked for Smew. Unusually there were none present (probably all at Welney!), but there were several Goldeneye.

Approaching Kings Lynn we decided to have a crack at the Great Grey Shrike at Roydon. The pattern repeated itself, despite the efforts of several birders, and we left without any yearticks, feeling somewhat annoyed. A brief check at Dersingham Bog still yielded no Shrike.

We stopped off at Matt's house to see if he wanted to go to Titchwell. Finding him in his pyjamas we left later than planned, but luckily there wasn't much at Titchwell so this wasn't too devastating! Connor was already on the coast doing a sponsored birdwatch with Jed and Sophie (the wardens of Holme NOA) and David Roche, and had already had Black-throated Diver (a potential lifer for us) and Grey Phalarope past on the sea at Holme. Apparently it was otherwise dead, which was more good news 'cos there was no way we would be able to get to the sea and back in time and have actually done some decent birding! We picked up some bacon sandwiches, then went to the first hide (having 2 water rails along the way) and found plenty of nice looking wildfowl, but nothing particularly exciting.

After helping somebody with gull identification, my phone rang in the hide! This is usually a bad thing, but this time it was Connor, ringing to tell us that Sophie had found a female Red-crested Pochard about 200m away (THANK YOU CONNOR!!!!!!!). Swiftly exiting the hide we used the patented Mr Reade Walk to reach the Pochard in the shortest possible time. Woohoo! A really unexpected lifer for all of us which more than made up for the day's dipping! We made our way back to the visitor centre as I needed to buy some new bins. The new release of a pair of RSPB bins made the choice more difficult than I thought. Vistrons were holding up well (partly because they look so cool), but I finally settled on a pair of 10x45 Viking GR's, putting me out £260, but they were definitely worth it!

Back at Matt's house I had a call from Connor saying they had a lovely Red-necked Grebe on the sea and some Med Gulls one hide down from where we had been, but also that there was a Glaucous Gull at Saddlebow! My heart beat faster and I didn't spare the accelerator on the way! At Saddlebow we got out of the car... and nearly cried. Literally thousands of gulls moving all around us, more than half of them juv. Herring Gulls, and we had to find a juv. Glauc. No chance! Using carefully honed bush-ninja surveillance skills we crept up on the flock and observed from behind a bush. It was horrible! After a while however, Simeon had it! He tried to direct me to it in a scope view full of gulls, but alas. I think I got onto the right bird, but it had its back to us and I couldn't clearly get the pink on the bill and it didn't flap for me, before I lost it in the mayhem. I suddenly went mad and lost my cool, leaving the cover of the bush and walking closer to the gulls. They all took to the air and scattered; Sim went back to the car. I spent another hour dredging, finding a possible Yellow-Legged (but it was on the water so I couldn't clinch it, and anyway the Glauc was far more important so I moved on) but failed to pick up on the much sought after second lifer of the day.

Just to put the icing on the cake, Connor called me back at home to tell me that the Shrike had been reported at 4.00, and someone else had had the Glauc and - yes, you guessed it - a Yellow-legged Gull.

Merry Christmas everybody!

No comments: