Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Norfolk - Day 1 - Oriole Agony take 2??

So Friday (27th) morning dawned and I was up before the Larks at about 3.30AM so I could be up and away at Rainton Meadows DWT for 4.00AM. A group of 12 of us were going to Norfolk for a long birding weekend, our destination; Norfolk and Suffolk. However we had decided that the Least Sandpiper at Old Moor was just to irresistable as we would be passing by the site at about 5.00AM when it was opening so we had a look there first. We ofcourse dipped as it was a 1 day bird, doesn't really surprise me as Spring migrants I have found either tend to be 1 dayers' or stay for a couple and then leave. When we arrived we didn't hang around long as we knew we had dipped so we headed off for our first port of call which was Weeting Heath NWT in Norfolk.

So what is Weeting Heath? Well I guess it can only be described as field with a couple of dodgy Red-legged Partridge, and about 154,825 Rabbits in it.  However there is one start bird that breed on site and there are 2 pairs, I am ofcourse talking about the Stone Curlew. We had excellent views with no heat haze of these strange looking waders. From the hide some of the lads had a Cuckoo but I never managed to connect with that bird other than I heard it.

It was only a short 5 minute drive from here to our next destination just up the road. It was a small track leading off from the main road and we parked up and walked to a strange looking site. It was a young tree plantation but looked perfect for our next target; Woodlark. We managed to connect with a family of birds, if I can use the expression the chicks were rather 'cute'. Not a very scientific way to be with birds but there you go.

(Woodlark - Andrew Kinghorn)

After having had excellent views of the Woodlark we decided we would move on to Lakenheath Fen RSPB. Those of you who follow my blog fairly regularly might be familiar with me "Oriole Agony" from last year. I was fairly sure it would be the same this year with me only ever hearing the birds and never seeing them. We arrived on site and some of the first birds we had were a couple of Hobby's flying over the reedbed by the second stand of poplar trees. We saw the Hobby's whilst listening out for and looking for the male Golden Oriole without any joy. We then decided to walk to the next stand of poplars as soon as we arrived some of the lads were ahead of me and we turned to our right as we heard a Golden Oriole singing fairly close in what looked like mainly dead popular trees with not much cover. The call went up to indicate one of the lads had one! I arrived and couldn't pick it up sitting in the tree. It then flew and I had my first ever view of a cracking male Golden Oriole! It landed and I could see it through the bins and I watched it for about 10 seconds or more in pure amazement and just enjoying the bird whilst trying to get others onto it. I then paniced and decided as it was sitting I could set my scope up and get scope views. I set my scope up and literally went to look and I saw it move with my naked eye as it flew off and we failed to see it again. I regret not having my scope set up but I think I equally regret just forgetting about the scope and enjoying the distant bin views of this fabulous looking bird. Not to worry; hopefully I might get another chance at seeing these great birds on site sometime in the near future. 

From here we headed to the main viewpoint. I had a huge grin on my face at having finally seen a Golden Oriole. From the viewpoint we had great views of Cetti's Warbler and Reed Warbler. Bearded Tit was also seen but not my myself. As can be expected we had a couple of Bitterns flying for fairly prolonged periods of time as well as many Marsh Harriers.

We had recieved news from a mate of mine that the Red-necked Phalarope was still present at Frampton Marsh RSPB and therefore this was our next port of call. On arrival we asked a guy if it was still present and he said he had seen it fly off a distance over the bank. We took his word for it and walked for what seemed like 34 mile! We arrived at a hide and no sign of the bird. However another mate of mine was making his way around to the next hide and whilst there he got onto the Red-necked Phalarope and so we all dashed to the hide where it had been showing from during its fairly long stay. We had cracking all be it distant views of this superb wader. A first for me aswell! 2 lifers in 1 day. Superb!

Make sure you view this in HD if at all possible:

(Red-necked Phalarope - Andrew Kinghorn)

Stay tuned for Norfolk Day 2, 3, and 4 which will follow soon.

Year Tick & Life Ticks in Bold
210 - Woodlark - undisclosed site, Suffolk
211 - Hobby - Lakenheath Fen RSPB, Suffolk
212 - Golden Oriole - Lakenheath Fen RSPB, Suffolk
213 - Red-necked Phalarope - Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire

Until next time, Foghorn out!

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