With the holiday crowds out in full force at Holkham on New Year's Day, we decided to avoid the area thinking there would be too much disturbance for the birds to settle.
This morning we again headed for Holkham and instead of the masses of New Year's Day, there were only four other cars parked up along Lady Anne's Drive when we arrived at 8am. After feeding the parking meter we headed off along the boardwalk and out onto the beach.
|Looking from the boardwalk towards Holkham Gap|
A section of the beach East of Holkham Gap had been roped off and this is where our target birds had been feeding. As we neared the area the Shore Larks were spotted busily feeding amongst the salt marsh. A quick scan with the scope revealed twenty-seven birds. The other target bird here was Snow Bunting and they were quickly located at the far end of this enclosed area. At first, there was a small party of fifteen birds, later the flock would grow of fifty!
With an eye on the time, we headed for the car park but were distracted by movement within the Buckthorn. A Stonechat appeared close by, but sudden movement behind the Stonechat revealed a Dartford Warbler! Although not needed for the year it was, however, a nice addition to my Norfolk list. I scanned every goose in every field on the way back to the car park. In the fields East of Lady Anne's Drive there were thousands of Pink-footed Geese and a large flock of Brent Geese dropped in, but no amount of scanning could produce any White-fronted Geese.
At Cley, a Glaucous Gull had been feeding on a dead seal carcass for the previous two days and when news broke of its presence again today we decided to head for Cley. There was mixed news on arrival. The Glauc had been disturbed from the carcass and had flown to the far end of the beach near East Bank. A lengthy walk on shingle followed, but it proved rewarding when the Glauc was spotted resting on the sea. It began drifting back towards Cley Coastguards but suddenly flew onto the beach only a few metres from where we were stood.
Sheringham was less than ten miles along the coast, so we went in search of Purple Sandpipers. The incoming tide had already begun covering the favoured rocks but Brian found a single bird feeding among the rocks close to the promenade.
Still needing White-fronted Goose for a year tick, we headed back to Holkham and scanned the fields around Holkham Freshmarsh. Some likely candidates were seen through the bins, but the scope was needed to confirm that they were indeed White-fronted Geese.
As we were leaving for home news broke of a Rough-legged Buzzard present at Choseley. Another ten-mile detour and we were scanning the ploughed fields South of the Pig field. A male Marsh Harrier and Several Common Buzzards were seen including a very pale bird. Another Buzzard was picked out and this was the Rough-legged buzzard. We watched it in flight through the scope allowing for some superb views. It then landed on the grass verge at the top of the road before returning to the field and resting upon the hedge bordering the two fields.
A stunning bird and a fitting end to a great days birding.