A windy day in the Holkham & Wells area, but still bird-filled with Shorelarks, Snow Buntings, Black Brant & a raptor roost!
I collected Araba and Lily from Hidolveston today, for an exclusive day out. We arrived at Holkham with grey skies and strong blustery SW wind, birding wasn’t going to be easy! However, the birds flowed really well, despite the conditions. As we arrived we were greeted by masses of Wigeon, Teal and Lapwing, just to the West of Lady Annes drive. There was also a nice flock of c140 Black-tailed Godwit, which we took time to admire, overhead Marsh Harriers, had the wildfowl and waders swirling around in spectacular fashion several times.
On the opposite side there was Brents, more Lapwing, several Redshank and in amongst these an overwintering Greenshank. We headed out on to the beach, and found some respite from the gusting wind behind the pines.
As we walked out we noted Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipits and some Skylarks singing overhead. A bit of movement ahead drew my attention to a Shorelark, cryptically moving in out of the vegetation, after a bit of scanning we realised there were several. They unfortunately got up and flew, after a frustrating few minutes, we eventually relocated them, and slowly we got a bit closer, flushed a single Snipe and then had lovely views of around 25 Shorelark. We then headed up to the cordoned area where again after a bit of searching I found the Snow Bunting flock, around 45 Snow Bunting showed delightfully, both on the ground and in short flights, before heading into the long vegetation and disappearing!
We then spent a bit of time of Gull ID! Working through, Herring, Common, Great-Black-backed and Black- headed Gulls, fortunately all neatly lined up along the saltmarsh.
We next headed over to the grazing marsh, we were again quite fortunate as immediately there was 2 Great White Egret and around 60 Russian White-fronted Geese, plus a few Pink-footed Geese. Good close views of both Marsh Harrier and Little Grebe on the way back.
We then headed off to Wells, had a nice lunch break in the Wells delhi, and then headed off to look at shorebirds. I checked a nice flock of c1000 Dark-bellied Brents, en-route but didn’t find anything unusual. Out at the Wells harbour mouth there was a good selection with Redshank, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and c60 Dunlin.
I stopped off again to check the Brent Goose flock, and very quickly a quick scan revealed a real bright looking ‘black & white’ Brent that had me rushing for the scope. My immediate reaction was correct, through the scope a real belter of an adult Black Brant, the first time I had seen a rela one this winter, truly black on the back, with really extensive white flank patch and big white collar.
We rounded off the day with the wind worsening and the rain starting to edge in, but not before we secured 4-5 Hen Harriers, including great scope views of an adult grey male, 2-3 Marsh Harrier and a single Merlin!