22nd September Day One – Holme Dunes, North Point Wells & Stiffkey Fen
We kicked off the tour at Holme dunes NNR, as we headed up through the dunes, there was a light passage of Meadow Pipits and Swallows passing by. Also several Stonechats including a family party, plus Reed Bunting and a nice flock of Linnets.
We then viewed the shoreline and salt-marsh from the vantage of Gore point, there was a nice flock of roosting redshank plus a whole group of 300 Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed godwits, Red Knot, and smaller numbers Dunlin, Turnstone and Curlew. A Sparrowhawk whisked by flushing all the shoreline birds creating a wonderful spectacle. Further out on the sea, were a raft of around 400 Common Scoter, many Gannets were fishing further out and a Manx Shearwater moved steadily SW midway out. Next two separate skeins of Pink-footed geese arrived across the wash from Lincolnshire, lovely to watch and hear them them arriving, then heading inland from their migration.
Out on the grazing marsh, at least four Marsh Harrier’s were circling and were soon joined by 2 Red kites and several Buzzards plus a Kestrel was hovering nearby.
We next headed up towards the bird observatory, stopping off on the way to check the cattle. A Yellow Wagtail was amongst them but typically hard to see in the long grass, although we got much better views of the marsh harriers.
In the NOA car park there was a nice showy Common Whitethroat, from the hide there was a nice mix of wildfowl with Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Black-tailed Godwit and also a single Common sandpiper and 3 Green sandpipers.
The Pines were fairly quiet but gave us chance of a lovely lunch stop and 2-3 Goldcrest.
We then headed towards North Point near Wells, the previous day I had managed to find the Pectoral Sandpiper, unfortunately no sign today. However, there was plenty to see with Little stint, common snipe, numerous Ruff, several Spoonbill, and good numbers of Teal, Wigeon and 20+ Pintail. Plus Pink-footed, Barnacle and the Egyptian goose.
Final port of call today was a circuit of Stiffkey Fen, there was a lovely group of 21 Spoonbills roosting, the pool was full of wildfowl mainly Teal, Wigeon and Pintail, in amongst the ducks was a nice selection of Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff a few Snipe and Redshank. We then headed across to look at the saltmarsh full, as we approached a waiter lifted and flew a short distance giving an unusual call is it flew, it then landed and started feeding amongst the Black-tailed Godwits. After a minute or so I realised it was the Long-billed Dowitcher that had gone missing from Cley a couple of days ago! The day was rounded off nicely with a passage Greenshank and a flock of five Whimbrel passing overhead calling!
The Long-billed Dowitcher – presumably the bird from Cley that disappeared two days ago!
Day Two – Cley & Salthouse areas
We started the day at Cley next to the sea, there was a light onshore wind and so we studied the sea. The group were treated to a master class of close inshore fishing by many gannets, these were accompanied by rafts of Razorbills and Guillemots taking advantage of the numerous small fry, with lots of Gulls also joining the feeding frenzy!
Further out to see several Red throated divers flew east, plus 3 Little Gulls, Sandwich and Common terns, plus a very smart adult pale phase Arctic Skua moving east. There was also a light westerly passage of Teal, Common Scoter, Wigeon and shorebirds, including Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Curlew.
We next took a wander along the East bank, where we eventually had reasonable views of Bearded Tit, also Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff along the Serpentine. Arnolds Marsh held a good selection of birds, including Shelduck, 20 Dunlin, numerous Redshank, closer views of a Greenshank. Off the bank a really nice close Red-throated Diver gave good views.
On the back we had further views of Bearded Tits and great views of hundreds of Pink-footed Geese dropping on to the freshmarsh.
We headed back to the centre, lunched and then headed to the Central hides, where there were lots of Teal and Wigeon, nice and closer views of a good selection of waders – Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff a Snipe, Redshank including a juvenile Little Stint. Several Yellow Wagtails were dropping in and out of the cattle calling, though frustratingly they refused to show well on the ground!
We then headed to Salthouse to look for an Eastern Yellow Wagail reportred earlier, no sign from the Iron road, so I headed on to Gramborough Hill, this proving a good decision where the day finshed rather well with 3 Wheatear, a Whinchat and an female Common Eider on the sea!
We all joined a nice group evening meal tonight in the Kings Arms at Reepham.
Day Three – Burnham Overy Staithe, Titchwell RSPB
We arrived here at 8.30am and before most of the day trippers and dog walker appeared!
There was plenty to see as we walked out, 2 Spoonbills flew over and the channel was busy with good number so of shorebirds, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, 2 Red Knot, a few Turnstone. We eventually came across a flock of 25 Dunlin, these were flushed by a late boat out in the creek, fortunately they flew towards us and amongst them was 2 Curlew Sandpiper, pristine peachy juveniles! The nearby grazing and freshmarsh yielded Skylark, Linnets, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipits and 400 Golden Plover in flight. Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Kestrel and Buzzard drifted over the dunes. The walk back along the hedgerow, provided us with a lovely gathering of around c80 House Martins feeding low over the cattle, plus more skeins of Pink-footed Geese right over our heads!
It was quite a windy morning and I adjusted plans to visit Holkham to a visit to Titchwell! We lunched then headed towards the feeders and added a few commoner species missing off our 3 day list, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and a flyover Siskin. The trail path to Patsy’s gave us close views of Goldcrest, a calling Chiff-chaff, Cetti’s Warbler and Bullfinch.
We then headed out on to freshmarsh, where we also added a couple more species that were missing from our tour, Tufted Duck and Pochard. The scrapes were realtively quiet, though there was a few roosting waders 45 Black-tailed Godwit, c20 Avocet, 12 Ruff and a Greenshank. The sea was also quiet but did have 4 Great Crested Grebe, another species that had eluded us.
On the way back there was just time to fit in our 112th species of the tour – 4 Grey Partridge.