7th – 9th January – Adventures and misadventures in Norfolk   Leave a comment

Margaret and I had a three day trip to Norfolk at the weekend, staying in a B&B in Cley.

Our first destination was the Buckingham marshes near Norwich and our target was a Lesser White-fronted Goose, an increasingly rare vagrant to the UK. We found the Lesser Whitefront quite quickly but the views were into the light and there was a strong wind, making it hard to keep the scope still. Also present were good number of Greater Whitefronted, ‘Taiga’ Bean and Barnacle Geese.

The most amazing feature of the marshes were the thousands of Golden Plover and Lapwings, which were repeatedly flushed by a couple of Peregrines, there were also large numbers of Wigeon and Teal.

Buckingham Marshes, Norfolk

Golden Plovers by the thousand

... the fllocks twisted and turned in response to the Peregrines

Female Wigeon in flight

Red-legged Partridges in the nearby fields

Later we visited the Norfolk Broads, ending our day at Stubbs Mill, a raised bank by an old windmill overlooking a huge expanse of marsh and reed bed. This area has become famous as a roost site for Marsh Harriers and we were not disappointed as at least 80 came into roost along with a couple of Hen Harriers. At least 8 Cranes were seen, part of the slowly increasing Broads population.

The low bridge at Potter Heigham is a nighmare for yachtsmen and cabin cruisers alike.


I doubt if this Greylag Goose is from the wild Icelandic population.....



...particularly as it was keeping company with tame Mallards!


The marshes at Stubbs Mill, the dots in the sky are all Marsh Harriers



Over 30 Cranes can now be found in East Anglia.



Unfortunately I missed a Merlin that appeared briefly and we didn’t see Barn or Short-eared Owl, but being at the raptor roost was a great experience. The drive to Cley on the north coast took longer than I expected mainly because I followed the coast road through numerous small villages. Our B&B was an old 18th centuary former coach house in the village of Cley and must have subsided somewhat as the bedroom and the bed was on a noticable slant.


A nursery rhyme about a crooked sixpence comes to mind!


On the 8th we headed for the local reserve where the very rare North American Western Sandpiper was overwintering. A bird that breeds no closer than Alaska, this is, not surprisingly very rare vagrant to the UK. Unfortunately it wasn’t on show so we headed to Holkham to witness the huge gathering of Pink-footed Geese. Up to 70,000 Pink-feet winter in Norfolk, mostly centered on Holkham. There was a ‘Tundra’ Bean Goose, Barnacles, Whitefronts, Greylags and a couple of Ross’s Geese in the flock, a vagrant from artic Canada that for reasons I have yet to understand has yet to make it onto the British list.


Wintering Pinkfeet. One of Britain's avian spectacles.


Breeding in Green;land, Iceland and Spitsbergen, most of the world's population winters in the UK



We had no luck with either the Rough-legged Buzzard that has been seen in the area or the Shorelarks on the saltings, so we returned to Cley where we had moderate views of the Western Sandpiper along with lots of other birds.


Water Rail


Drake Teal


Female Teal


Bearded Tits


Pair of Pochards


On the 9th we planned to have another search for the Rough-legged Buzzard then head for Titchwell where three species of Redpoll were coming to the feeders and Snow Buntings were frequenting the shore line. Unfortunately the car broke down on the way. The AA were very helpful, initially they intended to tow us home but after for 50 miles a second AA driver told us he could locate the broken part and by late afternoon we were on our way home. So concludes a great weekend, marred only by the loss of a whole days birding.


My 35 years of AA membership proved worthwhile!






Posted January 13, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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