North Norfolk Trip Report by Pete Hadfield
Chris, Rob and Keren had planned to go to Norfolk for some quality winter birding again this year but unfortunately Rob couldn't make it so Chris drafted me in from the Subs bench. (I think it was mainly so a man was doing the navigating :P )
The weather forecast was pretty bad. Every day was forecasting overcast and showers and to top it off the return ferry journey was forecasting at Gale force 8! eek
Thursday 28th February 2008
Douglas to Heysham
About an hour into the ferry journey me and Chris went outside to do a bit of (poor) pelagic seawatching. Saying that though a few days earlier 771 little gulls were seen off Blackpool so chances of seeing a cracking Little Gull were improved. First birds seen were a few Kittiwake and Razorbill on the water and a bit further on 2 Gannet were spotted. Some more Auks on the water were scanned and revealed a Guillemot. About two hours across in the freezing cold, my enthusiasm was flagging suddenly Chris shouted "Little Gull!!". but instantly said "oh no its a Kittiwake, it must have been shadows under the wings". I clocked the Kittiwake and was just about to hit Chris with a tirade of p*ss taking, when he said , "its there! Further forward!". I panned round and there it was, a mint Adult Winter Little Gull. It flew slowly past the boat about 60-70 yards out. Great views of only my second ever Little Gull. Quite soon after Chris spotted a Porpoise slowly breaking the surface, quite a good sighting off the ferry.
Unfortunately after the excitement everything went quiet apart from Chris being detected on a strange gentleman's "gaydar"! (must be Chris’ long hair or the way he was mincing across the deck) As Chris was being chatted up, I skilfully sidled away and saw a few Common Gull.
At Heysham as the boat docked we picked up Oystercatcher & Curlew, Turnstone, Cormorant & Common Redshank on the wooden pier and lots of Black-headed Gull flying around the port.
But we couldn't locate the wintering Med gull which was a shame.
On the road out of Heysham in the fields we picked up Whooper Swan and a flock of Lapwings.
On the journey down to Norfolk it was planned to stop at Budby near Nottingham. Driving in that direction we picked up Common Buzzard gliding by the road.
A few hours later and we were nearing Budby. We had been given some info on where to go look for a Great Grey Shrike and Woodlarks. Both lifers for me. We had been warned though that the area was an ex military firing range and there are unexploded bombs about!......
Bungee jumping or white-water rafting? Pahh, pansies..... Extreme birding is where it's at!!
We were about a mile away from Budby and our Norfolk trip nearly came to a premature end. On a roundabout some mad woman decided to indicate left then carry on round as Chris was pulling out. I braced myself for impact.. but luckily enough Chris managed to stop before the collision. Cue mad road rage and several comments about women drivers from Chris (and a few about English drivers from me :P )
We wandered off into Budby heath with our excellent instructions on where to go.
On our left was a fenced off heathland and on our right was a narrow section of deciduous trees.
In these trees we heard and then saw a lot of the expected woodland birds
Longtailed, Coal, Blue & Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper . Then Chris heard a song we are hearing less and less in the isle of man. “Widdly widdly wooo”
Sure enough there was a nice Yellowhammer on a bush.
After walking up the path for about 30 minutes we realised we had messed up following the easy instructions so a quick return back and we figured out where we went wrong and got onto the path across the heath. Time was running short now with us getting lost so even though we were hearing lots of interesting songs (mainly more Yellowhammers!) we continued. Suddenly Chris went motoring off and was adamant a Great Grey Shrike had flew across the path but try as we might we could not relocate it. We then had a stroke of luck and spotted a local who had some decent bins so chances were he might know some stuff.
“Anything about?” Was answered with "ohh yes.. 3 Stonechats!” … I put on my best acting skills and said “ooo that’s good”. Chris wasn’t quite as understanding and came out with.. “err they're a garden bird where we are from”… (we did find out they are quite rare in Budby heath though.. whoops)
When we asked about the Great Grey Shrike and Woodlarks we got good info and were told the Great Grey Shrike had been seen back near where we started and Woodlarks are everywhere!! Doh
As we were talking, Chris spotted a Green Woodpecker landing in a nearby tree. I quickly latched onto it for my best-ever view of a Green Woodpecker.
Deciding time was up and we needed to return to the car, we turned around and nearly instantly Chris said “Woodlarks.. I can hear them”. I could hear the obvious calls coming from overhead, we looked around and there were 4 Woodlark flying over our heads with their funny stumpy looking tails. Happy with that we started to walk back down the path and amazingly the Woodlarks flew round and started fluttering backwards and forwards over the path right in front of us. One also landed on a tree giving us good views of the head details.
Excellent views of my first lifer of the trip.
No more birds were seen on the return to the car but there was nothing to worry about as there were several wintering Great Grey Shrike' in Norfolk for us to have a crack at.
A few hours later we arrived at the Kings Arms in Blakeney. This was to be our base for the next 3 days. Here we met up with Chris’ old twitching mates Ray and Dave. They were our 'pager carriers' so we could be kept up to date with any breaking news.
Unfortunately Ray was quite ill with the same chest infection/heavy cold that Chris was carrying so he ended up being Dave's designated driver for the weekend.
Friday 29th February 2008
It was a bright and early start for Chris and I at 7am in the freezing cold - but at least it was sunny (stupid weather forecasters)
First job was to nip the few miles to Cley village to see the long-staying American vagrant that had took up residence in an overgrown field where it was coming down to seed which had been put out by local birders. It was only the 4th record for Britain, so a good bird to see.
When we got there, there was a bloke already there who told us it usually doesn’t start appearing till half 8… dohh. But since we were there we stuck it out. To keep us entertained, a Barn Owl was hunting the fields at the back near the church and Chris spotted a Water Rail appear from the overgrown grass, but it just wouldn’t show well enough for a photo. At 8.15 I was just lifting my bins to look at another blob in the bushes, as Chris shouted it’s there! Sure enough as I looked at the blob there was the mint (undamaged and definitely not an escape) White-crowned Sparrow. (lifer number 2) It worked it’s way through the bushes and onto the seed and fed warily. Luckily enough the sun came out for a few seconds and me and Chris got some record shots.
Chris then nipped back to the pub for his breakfast and I (stupidly) stayed out (in what felt like minus 5 degrees C!) in the hope it would show again..... It didn't! dohh
After their breakfast the gang appeared and we watched the sparrow a few more times as the crowd started to increase in size. At one point it got to 8 people!! Probably the biggest twitch I've ever been in.
By this point the sun had well gone and it was now overcast so we upped sticks and moved on.
Over the winter several Lapland Buntings had been being seen with the wintering Snow Bunting flock at Salthouse which was just a few miles away.
Our convoy (2 cars) headed down to the Salthouse beach carpark and straight away we could see the large Snow Bunting flock. But after a thorough check through the Lapland Buntings were nowhere to be seen.
Chris walked up to the Snow Buntings for a photo and amazingly his normal flushing skills deserted him and the Buntings walked right upto him some walking under his lens!
It would be nice to see the wintering flock in the Isle of Man back again. They are cracking little birds.
Time was tight so we had to move on again, this time inland to Kelling Heath, which would be our best chance of seeing a Great Grey Shrike as one had been regularly seen right through the winter.
We were well kitted out with info. With Ray and Dave's pager instructions and I had got a grid ref from the internet. We found the car park and Ray and Dave said it was between the car park and the campsite. They bounded off purposely so we followed thinking they know what they are doing.
I was slightly concerned we were going nowhere near the grid ref I had but I kept quiet and followed the "pros"….
15 minutes later, after being asked did they know where we were going , we were told “err no but we will bound to find someone to ask!”.... DOHHH.
About the same time Chris started to cough and splutter more than he had been and started to complain about feeling a bit unwell.. I suggested we try the grid ref before Chris ran out of energy so we turned round and left Ray, Dave and Keren to keep wandering aimlessly. Straight away we spotted the railway embankment that we knew we needed to be near but it was about a mile away on the other side of the road. 10 minutes later we had managed to find our way to the railway line, Overhead we could hear roaring of jet engines, We spotted the culprits.. two Eurofighters!! Very cool. .
We did a quick search of the area but then Chris succumbed and went back to the car. I had a good feeling so decided to keep looking, adamant I was in the right area. (I knew Army cadet map reading skills would come in handy one day!)
I crossed the railway line and had a wander. Here I met not one but two birders both said the Great Grey Shrike had not been seen at all today!! Nooooooooooooooo. Undeterred I carried on going. Every bush and tree was checked when suddenly in the distance I could see a white blob on the top of a tree. A quick check with my bins and YES!! There it was. Great Grey Shrike!! (lifer number 3) It was miles off so I put my best stalking hat on ( not literally ) and eventually managed to get within 30 feet. Not the best weather for photos but still a cracking bird and well worth the effort I took to find it. I had no signal on my phone so then had to go back to the car to tell everyone. On the way back a nice Jay flew along the trees. When I got to the road Dave, Ray & Keren were there looking agitated. Ready to tell them my news, I was beaten to it by Dave saying they had just had a Dartford Warbler! How lucky was that? finding a smart bird whilst having no idea where they were going.!
I sent them off to the Great Grey Shrike whilst I went with Chris to relocate the Dartford warbler. Chris located it by the call but the bird refused to come out of the gorse. Without seeing it I couldn’t claim a lifer so had to leave empty handed. So near yet so far.. dohhh
By now Ray was very rough and Chris was feeling pretty bad and it had started to rain. So we decided to go to a proper reserve where at least there were hides to sit in.
On the way to Cley, over the fisher price walkie talkie (don’t ask!) Dave informed us of some Egyptian Geese in a field. This was lifer number 4 for me but not one of my favourites it has to be said.
At Cley we saw a large amount of Avocet on the scrapes, along with Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and a flock of Golden Plover flew over. Over the reedbeds were at least 3 Marsh Harrier but none came close enough for a decent photo.
The "oldies" had had enough and went into the warmth of the new visitor centre to rest their old joints and have a cup of tea (Dave also bought the biggest bag of pies I've ever seen.)
On the way back to the Kings Arms we had another go at the Sparrow. As it was the weekend there were a lot more people here now and not being a fan of crowds I stood well back near a bus stop (which was also nicely sheltered from the wind) Chris and Dave had a scan about but the Sparrow wasn’t showing so we gave it up as a bad job. On the way back from the sparrow we popped into a birding shop called Cleyspy. I had been wanting a new pair of bins so was ready to "splash the cash" but unfortunately they didn’t have the new Leicas in stock, the salesman was very helpful though and let me test some similar bins. There was also a gallery of bird paintings here and some were so good Chris and I ended up in a argument about whether they were paintings or photographs!!
That was the end of the first full day in Norfolk, I had chalked up 4 lifers. Bird of the day for me was the Great Grey Shrike. Chris’ was the incredibly tame Snow buntings.
Saturday 1st March 2008
The wind had been blowing a gale all night (how my window didn’t blow in I’ll never know) but luckily by the time we got up it was dieing down and amazingly the sun was out. (why do weather forecasters bother?)
The night before Rays and Daves pagers had said 3 Shorelarks had been found at the “East Bank”. (I was hoping it was nothing like the West Bank though!) As this bird wasn’t on our list of possibles we went straight there.
On a pool nearby the car park at Walsey Hills was a Pochard.
Ray and Chris were both too ill to walk the 1 mile across the “bank” (wussies)so finding the Shorelarks would be down to me , Keren and Dave.
As soon as we got to the end of the bank 3 larks flew left. Obviously it was the birds we wanted to see but none of us got a good view. A quick look on the shingle ridge and we picked the birds up and got a much better view of the cracking Shorelarks. (lifer number 5) Suddenly Dave let out a high pitched girlie shriek… !! thinking he had snapped his leg off or something we looked at him only for him to cry out he had left his camera bag in the car. He pulled out the fisher price walkie talkie and amazingly the little plastic piece of junk worked and he called up Chris and managed to persuade him to come to see the birds and bring his camera bag. 10 minutes later Chris appeared. Followed by several expletives from Dave. Chris had forgotten to bring Daves camera!! Haahahah (even though Chris claimed to have not heard him say bring his camera… aye right.!)
Since Chris had now seen the birds, I went and lay up way ahead of the feeding Shorelarks to take a photo as they worked towards me. 20 minutes later I could just make out the birds . They were about 20 yards away and within a few minutes would be in perfect range. Suddenly I noticed two walkers in their dayglo raincoats appear on the top of the ridge. They looked straight at me, I prayed they would turn round and go back but instead they walked on and the Shorelarks were scared off! NOOOOOOoooo.
I was absolutely gutted. The chance of a Shorelark photo would probably not come round for me again and I knew it. I trudged back ready to go back to the car, but Chris wasn’t up for going back just yet and Dave had made the journey back to the car to get his camera. So we sat down for a rest. As we did another photographer appeared and went off down the shingle ridge. Within seconds he was kneeling down and setting his camera up. Knowing this meant he had refound the Shorelarks, I realised I had another chance of getting a photograph. I let the bloke take a lot of photos before moving and then again I positioned myself way ahead of the feeding Shorelarks. I lay still for what seemed like ages but it was more like 30 minutes when the first of the Shorelarks appeared in range. By this point I was knackered from carrying all my gear all over the place so could hardly hold my lens steady but I managed to rattle off 200 photos. Wooohooo!! Well pleased and all my energy gone, I rolled down the bank like an exhausted whale and staggered back .Everyone had gone, so I wandered back to the car. I eventually caught up with Chris and both of us killed ourselves laughing as we watched some bloke take a massive fall with all his gear on the muddy path .. muwahaha.
Next target was a long-staying Rough-legged Buzzard at Burnham Norton just along the coast. On the way I spotted a familiar bird for us in the IOM a Ringtail Hen Harrier. Not a common bird in England at all though.
At Burnham Chris stayed behind after the strain of walking to the Shorelarks but Ray wrapped himself up and braved the massive walk.
The path was very muddy and the nearby drainage ditch had flooded over its bank onto the path in places so getting to the Burnham seawall was a mini adventure in itself.
I had heard the name Burnham seawall several times in the past so was expecting some sort of concrete breakwater type thing. When we got to the “seawall” there was nothing there but a grass verge separated by half a mile of flooded marsh and then a shingle ridge. I'm guessing the sea was behind that ridge. Very weird landscape, I hadn’t seen anything like that previously. As for the Buzzard all we knew was it was in this area. So we sat down and started scanning. Eagle eyes Dave spotted 2 Red-breasted Merganser flying past, then I got onto a low flying Merlin as it tried (and failed) to catch its breakfast. After 20 minutes of scanning and looking for a distant brown blob in the distant brown looking grass and bushes we gave up and tackled the energy sapping trek back.
Next stop was a trip inland to Chosely drying barns. I think this was a place where they deal with all the arable crops in the area as it was a mecca for Buntings where they would feed on the spilled seed.
Soon as we pulled up I spotted Yellowhammer and the bird we came to see Corn Bunting (lifer number 6). After checking for a bit longer, there was also Reed Bunting and a flock of Golden Plover in the field behind the barns.On the way out Chris had a look for Little Owl at a pile of concrete but there was nothing there.
We then returned towards the coast and went to Titchwell RSPB .
I had obviously heard the name Titchwell many times so it was nice to finally see the reserve. To be honest it wasn’t as amazing to look at as I had pictured in my head, it just seem to be miles and miles of Reedbed and a couple of big shallow pools. Obviously the birds liked this type of thing and we were hoping for Bearded Tit here.
First up though on the way in Chris spotted a Woodcock in the dense bushes. At the feeding station just outside the shop up to 20 Brambling had been seen recently and I was looking forward to these since I had only ever had two 5 millisecond views of brambling. After an agonising wait of ooh at least 2 minutes, the first Brambling appeared, photographs were difficult in the bad light and dark area but a few record shots were achieved. Pleased with that we went off to the first hide that looked over what I'm guessing was the main pool. There were lots of Shoveler and Avocets here and up towards the other hide was a group of waders. I checked them out and saw Dunlin, Ruff, Redshank and even at the large distance I could clearly make out the Spotted Redshank that had been at Titchwell for a while. I tried to tell the others but only Keren took any notice.
5 minutes later Chris asked for Dave's scope to try and find the Spotted Redshank.. I was like. “errr helloooooo . its over there, I can practically see it with me naked eye” ,but I was still ignored. Must be their old ears or something.
I then decided I best go get a record shot so I made the little walk to the next hide. This hide was a lot more busy and as soon as I sat down and started taking photos a little crowd gathered. I hadn’t expected birders in Norfolk to be so unfamiliar with the big lens so it was a bit strange but no-one was narky which was good so I was happy to chat in between trying to get a distant record shot of the Spotted Redshank.
After a few minutes I returned and checked out the reeds all the way back hoping for a Bearded Tit but in these winds I was clutching at straws really. After meeting up with the others, Chris said they had also had a Lesser Redpoll flying over.
After Titchwell we popped into the Infocus shop across the road where I was hoping to get my new bins. We walked in looked around but couldn’t see any Leicas so Chris asked the shop bloke "do you sell Leicas?" The shop bloke grunted “NO , No Leicas”. Nice customer interaction there so we left .
A main UK binocular shop not stocking (arguably) the best binocular make. Weird.
On the way back we went to our last stop of the day. Holkham and Lady Anne's Drive.
The area was this hugeeee pile of Pine trees surrounded by lots of fields that i'm not sure were farmed at all. In the fields were thousands and thousands of Pink-footed Geese and in this large flock were a few Barnacle goose and the wintering Ross’ Goose (lifer number 7) I'm not really a fan of geese and I didn’t expect to be impressed by a white goose thinking it would look like it belonged on a farm, but the Ross’ Goose was pretty smart.
Dave and Ray stayed with the geese to go through every one looking for the reported Bean Goose. The rest of us went into the pines to look for the wintering Firecrest. This was probably the best chance I would have of seeing a Firecrest after the bungled Dumfries and Galloway bird in 2003. All we knew was to go down the track 200 metres . We did that and found the Goldcrest flock but try as we might we could not hear a Firecrest let alone see one.
Light was starting to go so we had to give in. But on the way out Dave stopped us and said "there is a Bean Goose in the geese flock" but that he had lost it in amongst the tons of birds.
This would be a lifer for me so we stopped and Chris had a play with his mighty midget……. Ooer.. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack though and we couldn’t relocate the bird.
On the way back we came across several cars in a layby, we looked around to see what they were looking at and there was a Barn Owl hunting in a road side field in the daylight!. Chris ditched his car at an angle that I couldn’t take any photos and then I forgot to hand him his camera so we both ended up with zero photos… whoops a daisy :)
Nice to see Barn owl in the day though.
Just before going back to the Kings Arms we tried once again for the Lapland buntings at Salthouse but again they were not playing and none were seen
That ended the second day in Norfolk. It was a very long, tiring but good day and the birds of the day for me and Chris were the Shorelarks.
Non-birding highlight of the day though came while we were eating our dinner in the pub.
Whilst tucking into our nice food, nearby a woman burst into a tirade of abuse. “You b*stard, going sh*gging that Sl*t while I was in tears.. u piece of sh*t...” . It was like being in an episode of Eastenders or something. I was sure she was talking on her phone as there was no-one else talking but Chris went to the bar and said there was a bloke sitting with her!! Who in their right mind would take a very angry woman out for a pub meal… ! The tirade of abuse and colourful language continued for about 10 minutes and the best the man could come up with was .”.sssshhhh sssshhhhhh”… ahahhhaa. Very entertaining :)
Sunday 2nd March 2008
Amazingly the sun was out again for our last day in Norfolk. (I'm never looking at a weather forecast ever again!)
Initially we had only been having a few hours in Norfolk before going back to Heysham but with a change from the Steam packet we now had all day. Unfortunately overnight I had started coughing and in the morning Keren was coughing a lot too, Rays disease was starting to spread!!. Despite Chris' illness he was his old self, trumping every 5 seconds. I prayed my cough would turn into being bunged up so I couldn’t smell anything!
First thing, me and Chris had a look around Blakeney quay. I really liked the "ye oldy" looking natural inlet harbour. In there was a Little Grebe and a few Little Egret on the marsh.
On Ray and Dave’s pagers the Lapland Buntings had been reported again so after breakfast we went straight there. This was our 3rd and last attempt. Soon as Chris parked up he said "Lapland Bunting!" (lifer number 8) And there in the middle of the Snow buntings was one smart looking Lapland Bunting. A lot easier to recognise than I expected too. There were quite a few other birders about so trying to get close for a photograph was always going to be tricky. I kept well back not wanting to flush the flock and got some distant record shots. I wish I hadn’t been so considerate because at one point a bloke walked straight by the snow bunting flock not more than 5 feet from them and the Lapland Bunting must have been only 6-7 foot from this bloke but he never even looked at them! The birds carried on feeding like he wasn’t there. Damit!
Really pleased with finally getting this bird we moved off but only after I got a photo of some ridiculously tame Dunlins in the nearby pool.
We were 'winging' today as we had no actual plan, so it was decided to go back to Kelling Heath to try for the Dartford Warbler again. Without getting lost this time me, Chris and Dave went to the area but nothing was heard or seen. 20 minutes of walking about produced nothing so we made our way back to the road. About 20 yards from the road Chris suddenly stopped and said "listen". Behind us the Dartford Warbler started calling then burst out of the gorse and flew across the path. I managed to get bin views of it in flight and was pretty pleased with that when Dave said "its on the top of the gorse bush". I swung my bins round and got a really good 2 second view of the Dartford Warbler before it flew off never to be seen again. This was lifer number 9 for me and a really good start to the day. Only one more lifer needed and I would hit the double figures Chris had guarenteed me. I had said I would have been happy with 5, so 9 was really good!
Pleased with our luck today, Chris said we were going back to Lady Anns drive to try for the Firecrest again.
Just before we got there, Chris pulled in and had a look at a small Dark-bellied Brent goose flock. We had been told there was something like 100,000 Brent geese in North Norfolk in winter and amongst them were 2 or 3 rare North American Black Brants. We hadn’t really come across any large Brent Goose flocks on our trip so the Black Brant chance hadn’t materialised. I didn’t bother picking my bins up as we get Pale-bellied Brent geese in the Isle of Man in winter and the dark bellys look nearly the same. I sat there when Chris shouted in an incredulous voice "BLACK BRANT!!". I actually didn’t believe him, thinking it was just a dark-looking Brent Goose but Chris was already out the car with his camera. I got out thinking "yeah yeah" .. lifted my bins up just to make it look like I was doing something and there, plain as day, was a Black Brant. (lifer number 10) Absolutely ridiculous. The Brent Goose flock must have only been about 30 birds. And there was a bird we had only a 0.09% chance of seeing.
Chris was slightly impressed by himself for finding this bird and between here and Holkham stopped everyone (including frightened women and children) to tell them of the Black brant.
Back at Lady Annes drive I specifically paced out an approx 200 metres to try and give us a better chance of finding the Firecrest. But again the area was dead. Chris decided to try further down and it looked more like 300 metres to me. I was about 20 yards away looking in some bushes when some people walked behind me… Suddenly I heard Chris shout .. "PETE GET HERE U @*&*!! " (he had actually shouted me 3 times but I never heard him because of the people behind me! Whoops) I turned and saw Chris frantically taking photos. He hadn’t actually said what it was, but I was pretty sure I knew, so I scarpered across and Keren came down the path too. Chris pointed to the right side of this medium-sized deciduous tree and I got my bins straight on the Firecrest!! Woohoooo finally (and lifer number 11) . It fed in front of the three of us down to 10 feet at times. Way too close for me to focus on .. All 3 of us were firing off shots at the active little thing. It sounded like downtown Basra … dugger dugger dugger dugger dugger.. After 30 minutes of this my arms felt like lead and I could hardly lift my 500mm lens up at all.. It was only adrenaline that had helped me take shots for that long as, normally, I can only last about 10 minutes handholding my lens.
Chris had a good enough photo and I couldn’t do anymore, so we gave it up as a good job.
After a rest we went across to Holkham Hall. Chris said this was the house of the Earl of Leicester. It certainly was a smart area. Massive grounds with tons of trees. We had been told near the monument was good for Lesser-spotted Woodpecker so we went and had a look. Straight away we heard an unusual call. I had heard Lesser-spotted woodpecker calls on my computer before and was sure it was that. Chris also thought it was one as well.. But try as we might we could only find Nuthatch. Chris changed his mind and decided the call was Nuthatch but a bit of me still thinks it was a lesser pecker call. On the way out we came across a big flock of Redwing and Fieldfare feeding under boundary of the trees. Scanning through them revealed a really smart Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground as well.
Me and Chris tried stalking the Woodpecker but there was no way to keep concealed from the Redwing and Fieldfare as well and they all got up pretty quickly and the woodpecker went with them.
We decided to call it a day and make the long journey back to Heysham. But on the way we stopped at 'the Barn Owl field' from the other day. Straight away we could see a Barn Owl perched on a gatepost but it looked half asleep. Hoping it would start hunting we hung around. After 30 minutes the little pig still hadn’t moved when, suddenly, Keren pointed out another Barn Owl floating over the road and into the field! This bird hunted for a while allowing us to try to get some photos. Then, when he was done, the other bird started hunting. They were the best views of Barn Owl I’ve ever had but getting a good photo was a lot harder than it looks!.
By now I was starting to feel a bit worse for wear as Ray's disease started to get to me. So I stopped shooting and watching the Barn Owls instead. After what seemed like hours with the Barn Owls we packed up and headed for home.
The trip was extremely tiring but also a real eye opener in getting to easily see tons of good birds and seeing them really close, something that is not easy in the Isle of Man.. Also the people out and about were nice and it was good to be walking around doing something everyone else was doing rather than being an oddball like over here.
My bird of the trip was a tricky one to choose but I would go with the Shorelarks.
Chris’ was the Firecrest as its one of his top 5 birds in the world.
After we returned home Ray's chest infection finally got its victims good and proper. Me, Chris and Keren caught it very bad and all 3 of us didn’t make it back into work for another week! It was the worst flu Ive had in my life and after 9 days I'm finally getting over it. Keren was still struck down with it after 10 days!
But even with catching the Flu it was a really good trip. The area and people were nice, the birds were good and relatively easy too see (and photograph) too. I will definitely go back to Norfolk one day I reckon.