Monday 5 December 2011

Jam tastic weekend away in Norfolk - Western Sandpiper

Back in the summer when we booked a weekend away in early December in north Norfolk for my daughter's 14th birthday, little did I think at the time I'd be jamming in on a mega rarity. This is the 3rd time this year I have been back to the cottage, in Thornham. The first time involved a week away over Easter, and tickwise it went horribly wrong. During that one week I missed out on 2 life ticks elsewhere; Little Crake and Black Stork; 2 birds I have yet to catch up with.

So last Thursday when the Semi-P that had been present for a few days at Cley, firstly changed from a Semi-P to a poss Western, then onto a definite Western Sandpiper, I was thanking Jammyious Dodgerus (the Roman god of, er, jamming in on birds), that the little yank would hang on for at least 12 hours so I could get there.

At 7.30am Friday I arrived at Cley in twighlight, and walked the short distance to the hides. There was probably 50 or so birders already there spread quite evenly between the 3 hides and luckily, the bird was on show in front of the hide i opted for first, feeding frenetically, with Dunlin. In poor light it was not easy to get any photos as you will see. There I was Sibley in one hand trying to pick out the key featues to confirm why it was a Western and not Semi-P when a Merlin shot through, putting everything up. The small group of Dunlin (and the sandpiper) relocated on a small island much further away and directly under the sun, which was now just above the horizon. Everyone started chatting as is the way and no one noticed a small flock of waders flying low past to the next pool. Well everyone but me that is, as I was Billy no mates that morning, I was actually checking out the teal to try and locate the one with the vetical stripe to grip off Hawky, so followed the birds and relocated the Western Sand. Off I went to the next hide to get a better view, unfortunately, this hide was much more packed, especially after the bird had just flown in. So after cranning my neck for a further 10 minutes I decided to call it quits and head home, for a well deserved fry up! Tick and run!

The weekend didn't produce any other suprises birdwise. One trip to Titchwell failed to produce the Yellow Browed Warbler. I picked up a Tawny Owl beside the road on the way up and late afternoon on Friday, a Barn Owl provided cracking views for the family, as it hunted close to the road. Oh and of course thousands and thousands of Pink Feet provided the usual daily spectacle.

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