For each of the last 4 years, a few of the lads have had a week or long weekend away in October. Last year it was Shetland, and the 3 previous years it was Scilly. This year myself, Shaun, Hawky, dirty twitcher Jono and Dave Mo were off to Norfolk!
With south westerly winds off the Atlantic hitting our shores for the last gazillion weeks; American megas have been tripping over each other on Scilly. Even Shetland has been relatively quiet. After a failed last ditch effort to convince the lads to write off Norfolk, take the hit on the accommodation costs and head off to the Scillies, we were on the A12 heading north on Thursday AM.
A couple of hours later we arrived in Suffolk to take in the Sandhill Crane again. Dave Mo, was the only one in the party to not have already seen it and with Norfolk being totally devoid of any birds, we took the scenic route. The bird was pretty mobile in the hour or so we were there providing ok views.
Next we took an even more scenic route to Horsey where we hoped to make it a 2 crane day. I must admit I had never heard of Reedam Ferry across the Broads until Thursday. Well now we have. £4 to travel 30 metres had us wondering if in fact we were on the Scillies. I am sure that the ferry company must have a deal going with Garvin, taking numerous unsuspecting drivers across country and to that ferry! Anyway, needless to say, despite a good look, no cranes could be found. Well by now we were in Norfolk so the cranes were just preparing us for the next few days. Hawky luckily spotted a ringtail Hen Harrier on route to the cottage, which livened up the journey a bit.
Despite not a lot to see, the next few days passed in no time. We had good views of common waders, a fleeting glimpse of a Yellow Browed in Wells Wood, a couple of not overly great sea watches and er that was that. 3 days, no birds, well no bird of the quality were were hoping for anyway. We decided to throw in the towel and come home a day early. Sunday AM we split into 2 groups, with one so bored they went straight home to watch some paint dry and the other; me, Hawky and Jono, again taking the scenic return journey via Suffolk.
The journey home, although quite long, produced some cracking birds at last. Firstly, we located 2 Common Cranes. near Horsey. Next it was off to Lowestoft for a very showy juv Woodchat Shrike. Superb. Pics coming soon.
We continued south to Minsmere were the Glossy Ibis showed pretty well too. Finally we arrived back in Essex, back to Coalhouse Fort, for a look at the now long staying Semi Palmated Sandpiper, of which we had good but brief views.
The moral of this story is; if you are going to pre book a birding break in October each year, use your loaf and either go to Shetland or the Scillies. Ok you might get a duff year every now and then, but nothing like it was in Norfolk. We'll take that one on the chin and start planning next year's trip. I suppose at least we didn't miss anything gettable anywhere else!
Oh hang on what's this on birdguides:
Probable Blue Rock Thrush, East Runton, Norfolk, for 2nd day on Sunday 9th October, no sign today. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!