Day One of five – Norfolk Winter Birding tour

Today started early with a arrival at Snettisham around 7.35am for the high tide. En-route we had 2 Barn owls, the second we had perched and were able to watch hunting. We then arrived at Snettisham just in time to watch thousand Pink-footed geese leaving their roost. Next came a spectacular performance of c20,000 Red Knot, c5000 Bar-tailed Godwit trying to elude and out fly the attentions of a very persistent Peregrine! It made for great entertainment in wonderful sunlit skies. Also out on the mud were, 2500 Golden plover, 1000 Lapwing, smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail! Also worrying the masses, were several Marsh Harriers.

The High tide shorebird scramble as a Peregrine hunts over the top of them!

We then headed to the South Hide, from here we added several Goldeneye, plus Turnstone and several Little Grebe. A short walk and we were soon watching the two regular wintering Short-eared Owls, well camouflaged in their roost positions.

As we headed out of Snettisham we were soon stopping for a field full of c3000 Pink-footed Geese, we found at least 12 White-fronted Geese, but the parallel flat field made checking everyone of them awkward. There was 2 very smart Grey Partridge. We stopped a little further up the road with a bit more elevation, but our attention was soon taken with the full and beautiful song of a Woodlark, and we soon found it sitting on the ground

We stopped off for a warming coffee and next headed up to Sedgeford area, and were very lucky to find the Eastern Yellow Wagtail still present and showing very close just alongside the verge of the lane. It was vying with 2 Pied Wagtails in good light and available for picures! The field also hosted a small group of c30 Fieldfare.

© Shirley Bain – Eastern Yellow Wagtail – showing very well today!

Just behind us more and more Pink-footed Geese were arriving and we eventually left the Wagtail and found a suitable gap in the hedge to scour the masses of Pinks. It took a while, there was at least c6000 Pinks, but Ryan dug out a nice pair of Tundra Bean Geese and we got really nice scope views in good light. Nearby a Sparrowhawk hunted the hedgerows holding Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnets, plus a nice flock of House Sparrows.

We headed to Holme for a late lunch, where several Marsh harriers were hunting, and 2 Stonechats showed very well. The weather had now turned, grey and v windy! So we had a late look at Thornham where after some effort we managed flight views of around ten Twite