Sunday, 11 August 2013

European Roller, Horsey Norfolk plus Blue-winged Teal Ouse washes

At 12.20 on Monday 5th news breaks of a European Roller at Horsey in Norfolk. 
Having already missed the Roller at Holt earlier in the year through work. I'm again stuck at work with no chance of taking time off to go for it. With the whole working week ahead what's the chances of the bird sticking until the weekend?
Checking the news services each day, to find it's still present on Friday at 17.15. Will it stick overnight and give me a chance of seeing my first Roller?

Meeting up with Brian Saturday morning, he asks the question. "Where we going?" He already knew the answer and had the site in the satnav ready to go.
Leaving Essex at 6am, we are parked up and heading off down the road past Nelson's Head Pub shortly after 8. There's no sign of the bird after scanning the fence posts and trees along the track, so we continue walking towards the dunes.
Reaching the dunes, we can see a small group of birders in the distance. Turning the corner and heading East the pager beeps into life. "Roller still southeast of the east end of Nelson Head track this morning but distant".
Reaching the others birders I'm on the bird immediately. Although quite distant through the bins it gives great scope views, sitting on a fence post.

All photos of  Roller kindly provided by Dan Self. 
Nice to meet you Dan and hope you made it back ok with that beast of a telescope you were carrying. A Vixen 80mm 900mm f.l. refractor!

It's using fence posts along the edge of a channel, and it frequently drops from the posts and into the channel and then would reappear a short distance away on another post.
A stunning bird when perched. It goes up another level when in flight! 

After forcing myself away from the Roller I Climbed the sand dunes, to find Grey and Common Seals hauled up on the beach.

They look pretty docile, but there was plenty of evidence of fighting having taken place on quite a few of the seals. With a couple of big bull seals around.

After a quick pit stop at Salthouse for a coffee, it's off to Titchwell.
Plenty of action from Island hide, with Green and Common Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ringed, Little Ringed and Golden Plover, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocet, Greenshank, Bearded Tit, Spotted Redshank Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk all seen from here.
Back at the car park it was good to bump into Paul Hackett again. I first met Paul at Bramfield Church while searching for Hawfinches. He took time out to give me a few pointers on digi-scoping.

Heading for home, news came through that the eclipse Blue-winged Teal had been seen at Ouse Washes in Cambridge.
A small detour and by 4pm we are sitting in Stockdale Hide starting the search for the Teal. 

The bird had been reported as present at around 2pm, but none of the small group of birders in the hide had re-found it since.
Plenty of Teal and Garganey were present which was making the search that much harder. A nice little distraction from the search for the Teal came in the form of Three Cranes. Seen to our left feeding among the taller grasses.
The hide was starting to fill up now and after another scan of the wildfowl present, one guy thinks he's found a likely candidate. Everyone's scope is trained on the bird and we start to go through the ID features. It's looking good as far as plummage, bill shape and legs are concerned, as it swims back and forth between to spits, it then decides to swim out of view behind the right hand spit.
Keeping the scope trained on the area, it reappears on the grass at the front of the spit. After a short walk it raises one leg and stretches one wing fully out. The beautiful powder blue wing patch catches the sun perfectly.
Any lingering doubts are now gone, this is our bird.

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