After the YWT crew had headed back north, the NNOBS guys turned up in drabs, meeting us at the Jolly Sailor, for pies and beers, as is the traditional start. Up early, we took a hunch and walked at dawn from Burnham Overy Staithe to the Dunes and then into Holkham. We started well, with a Ring Ouzel in the scrub by the seawall, and a Wheatear on the path. Then Reg called ‘Egrets’ and we marvelled at the sight of 116 Little Egrets heading west along the coast. Presumably all flushed out of their roost over at Holkham. I hope they had had a better night’s sleep than we had had…
It was blowing a hoolie and we were glad to get to the shelter of the dunes. Sadly, due to the clear conditions the night before, the dunes had emptied, and there was very little about. A quick look on the sea revealed it to be ‘going off’ with tonnes of auks, ducks, gannets and other stuff heading west. Best of the bunch were a gang of 5 imm Pomarine Skuas powering east, followed by two more further out. Unfortunately we were not dressed for seawatching or being sand-blasted so we soon headed west to check out a huge pong from the beach. Sadly, no Sperm Whale could be found, just a pile of rotting seaweed. Close to the start of the pines, Reg, who was obviously on form, shouted something inaudible. We all looked up to see a Waxwing hurtling west, calling loudly. Nice one! There had already been one or two singletons reported by that time, mainly from Spurn. The start of something perhaps? Into the pines, more birds about, including Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and some showy Bramblings. Paul, by this stage, was starting to get grumpy, so we needed to find some food. I assured them that there was a butty wagon down the end of Lady Anne’s. Sadly, a few minutes later a devastated and starving Paul rang to say it wasn’t there. We hastened up the drive to catch the bus, which shot past within yards of us. Doh! I feared a mutiny, or a clout, so I pegged it up to the Adnam’s shop and bought the only food they had – some crisps, before returning to persuade Paul not to kill me.
One Coasthopper stop later, we were back at the car and Al was relieved that his BMW hadn’t needed to test its resistance to the North Sea. Having stuffed our faces, we went west to taunt the dudes at the Raspberry Zoo. I enjoyed being shown a Skylark, named as a Lap Bunt, and we all enjoyed seeing the rehoming of the Stansted Terminal 2 building on the site of the old Parrinder Hide. Down to the sea, I was keen to check it out due to our brief success earlier. An hour later, I had nailed a fine pale adult Pom, plus three immatures. Again, all heading west. Several Red-throated Divers, and a number of thrushes, Blackies and Skylarks in-off. The rest of the lazy gits slept in the dunes, while I indulged myself.
Later on, we decided we fancied checking out the Stiffkey roost. On arrival at Warham Greens we found a lot of cars and a lot of anoraks, all busy searching presumably for a Pallas’s Warbler, that Reg had missed the day before. Sure enough, within a few minutes we were enjoying cracking views of the sprite behaving almost lethargically in the late afternoon sun at the top of an oak. A fine Hen Harrier shot overhead, suggesting the roost might come up trumps. We wandered down the track after having our stripy fill, before bumping into several more stripes in the form of an equally showy Yellow-browed Warbler sitting in the sunlit edge of the hedge. Nice.
The roost failed to disappoint. I was quite amazed that none, that’s NONE, of the birders who had been twitching the Pallas’s (c40-50) bothered doing any birding. In an hour, we had 3-4 Hen Harriers, several Marsh and a brief Merlin, plus two Barn Owls and few noisy Grey Partridges. Then the pub beckoned.