Feb 18th 2019 Another great day visiting Holkham Shorelaeks, Snow Buntings, Spoonbills, Long-tailed Duck and Great White Egrets The day rounded off with yet another great raptor roost & a Barn Owl.

I collected Peter and Sue from The White Horse, where we enjoyed breakfast together, chatted over their target birds and agreed the logistics fr the next two days.

We arrived at Holkham and were soon seeing some nice birds, starting with 25 White-fronted Geese, Pink-footed Geese and several hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese, including one of the hybrid Black Brants. Several Marsh Harrier and Red Kites as well.

The flock of Brents up really close on Lady Annes Drive

We then walked out on to the salt-marsh, at the East end we soon located the flock of 25 Snow Bunting, though they played hard to see for a while, in and out of the long vegetation! We headed to the dunes and looked out to sea, there was a small group of Common Scoter, a nice surprise was a drake Long-tailed Duck loosely in attendance with the Scoter. Nearby, there was 2-3 Red-throated Diver and several Great crested Grebe.

When we arrived back to the salt-marsh, the Snow Buntings slowly came out into the clear area, before eventually giving great views down to a few metres!

Snow Bunting Holkham
Snow Buntings showed very well eventually

The Shorelark, had been seen earlier but disappeared. I decided to head out to the area I had located them in a few days ago, fortunately it didn’t take long as one bird appeared and eventually we had 5 Shorelark showing on and off, one bird showing well and allowing me this short video.

Shorelark – eventually gave themselves up!

On the way back we also had a few Rock & Meadow Pipits, before heading into the cafe for a coffee and a sandwich. We then headed to one of the roadside vantage points and there was 6 Spoonbills and 2 Great White Egrets now on view. There was also several skeins of 2-3000 Pink-footed Geese dropping into the marsh and we enjoyed nice scope views of these. With a really nice haul of birds at Holkham, we headed for a quick visit to Wells, the channel held a superbly smart raft of 6 Red-breasted Merganser.

We headed off to the raptor roost and were rewarded for arriving early with both a ringtail Hen Harrier and a perched adult Merlin. Followed by two more ringtail Hen Harrier, plus a lovely grey male.

Adult female Hen Harrier

The day wasn’t quite finished though as Sue, got her most wanted Barn Owl, that we found en-route back, showing down to just a few metres twice as it almost felt within touching distance from the minibus!

February 19th 2019. A good second day starting with a trio of Diver species, rounded off  with a trio of Short-eared Owls.

We started earlier today and headed straight for Titchwell with the tide high and still well in. It proved a good decision, with both a Black-throated and Great Northern Diver close inshore, plus a second Great N Diver a little further out. Also a couple of Red-throated Diver, to complete a nice set! Just on the shoreline there was 6 Eider and another 7 Eider flew West. There was a good number of Great Crested Grebe and a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers also out on the sea. The rocky shoreline was also busy with Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Turnstone.

The shore birds were scattered when a young male Merlin came tearing past, before giving nice views perched up on the beach. We next headed to the hide and scanned the main freshmarsh, there was plenty of Wigeon, Teal and a few Gadwall. The best bird was a nice adult Mediterranean Gull.

We next headed to Thornham where we were soon enjoying lovely views of at least 12 Twite, a couple of them below.

Twite at Thornham harbour

We stopped off for lunch in Hunstanton and enjoyed great views of Fulmar as we sipped our coffees!

Fulmars showing very well along the cliffs at Hunstanton.

We finished the tour off with a visit to Snettisham and enjoyed 3 Short-eared Owls, all roosting and sat amongst the bushes, one obvious, one tricky and the third almost completely hidden! Back on The Wash, there was a fantastic flock of c5000 Golden Plover as well as nice spread of commoner waders, plus a fine drake Pintail!

Thanks for these nice comments from Peter and Sue – “Had a count up last night, 25 year ticks and 4 life ticks. My highlight was the Shorelark, Sue unhesitatingly went for the Barn owl which, I admit, was pretty special.
Brilliant trip, way ahead of what we had hoped for, thank you.”