Norfolk Birding Exclusive Day – 29th April 2021

Today I met Ian and Helen for an exclusive days guided birding in North West Norfolk, they were fairly new to birding so we concentrated on looking mainly at the commoner shorebirds and wildfowl. We started the day early and were at Snettisham just after 7.30am to watch the shorebirds on the High tide there.

The onshore wind had resulted in a higher tide that might be expected. As we arrived, repeated flocks of Oystercatchers flashed past us and small group of Knot & Dunlin whizzed along the shoreline. Out on The Wash there was thin lines of summer plumage Grey Plover, mixed with a few Curlew and more lines of Oystercatchers. Several Ringed Plover were much closer feeding just along the shoreline in front of us, a few lingering flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese were flying over the sea, whilst there were many Shelduck & 5 Barnacle Geese flew past us.

After admiring the views and flocks we headed round to the screen, stopping on the way to first watch a lovely pair of Marsh harriers, before getting nice scope views of a perched Barn owl

Once looking over the scrape there was a lovely huddle of Red Knot, with another tight group of Bar-tailed Godwits shoulder to shoulder, each species separated in their own tight group. many of both groups had smart individuals sporting their summer finery, lovely brilliant brick orange tones! Further scanning revealed 2 Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Redshank and Dunlin also amongst the mix of shorebirds.

A really smart pair of adult Mediterranean Gulls broke our concentration, their soft ‘wow’ calls begging our attention. The nearby dunes offered up Reed Buntings, Linnets, Meadow Pipits and some stunning summer plumaged Linnets.

As we left the hide a calling migrant Greenshank flew overhead calling, this was soon followed by another migrant this time a Common Sandpiper. A stop along the shoreline as the tide retreated, gave us much closer views of several stunning Grey Plover, plus many c400 Dunlin, c100 Avocet a few Sanderling and more Curlew. The nearby bushes gave us good views of Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat though a singing Cetti’s warbler was less obliging.

We headed to Holme stopping off for 2 Red Kite circling alongside the main coast road. At Holme we managed to find a nice spot out of the wind and in the sunshine. We admired the singing Sedge warbler, Goldfinch, calling Med Gull and soaring Marsh Harriers whilst eating lunch.

After lunch we walked down the entrance track and were soon listening to a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, it was tricky to see and we managed brief glimpses. There was also singing Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. Further along the track a couple of Wheatear were showing up along a sandy ridge, one a super orange and blue/grey male. Our attention was diverted as a Cuckoo started up and we walked carefully towards the calling bird. After a bit of scanning and I found the male Cuckoo singing from a lower half of a hawthorn, we were able to get really nice scope views watching it sat calling.

The shallow pools further along had Egyptian Goose, Sheduck, Gadwall, Shoveler and 5 Snipe in flight.