Tuesday 14 November 2023

Norfolk, 28th October 2023

    It's funny how in three years at uni in Cambridge, there's failed to be an autumn where the weather and conditions have come together to produce one of those dreamy 'big' days. Either way, last December myself and Joe did a foray to the Norfolk coast by public transport. With Alain also joining us this time, we did the same thing - our journey started at Cambridge train station for a 06:30 train, arriving at King's Lynn for 07:30. From here, after breakfast and a caffeine hit, we got the Coastliner bus up to Titchwell, arriving by 09:45. 

Over the past year I've taken far fewer photos than usual, and as Alain was keen to photograph waders, myself and Joe focused almost entirely on watching and looking. Wind and an overall lack of opportunity also meant few birds were worth sound recording. Titchwell started off well with 2 Hawfinch, one which flew over as we failed to find Pallas's Warbler and another youngster which didn't look to be in the best state, as it fed in the car park moving every now and then to assure us it was still alive. These were enjoyed, as were at least 2 or 3 Yellow-browed Warblers dotted around. Goldcrests were everywhere, and from the moment we reached Norfolk thrushes were continually arriving in off the sea. Really cannot complain, even if light SW winds were far from ideal. 


Hawfinch - Joe's photo

Seawatching took up a good hour or two at Titchwell. It was a 5 grebe day there - on the reserve was a single Black-necked and 2 Little Grebe, whereas on the sea were 3 Slavonians, 2 Red-necked and a dozen or so Great Crested. Red-throated Divers, Razorbills and Gannets were some of the other highlights, alongside several hundred Common Scoter. We spent a while watching a Blackbird battling to reach land, clearly exhausted given it repeatedly plunged into the water. We thought it would be heartbreak, but eventually it reached land, a true hero. Things like this mean I'm always a fan of a seawatch, and it was nice to sit back and stare out to sea for an hour or so as Alain got a chance to photograph waders (Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderlings were just some of a few featuring along the beach.)

Knot - Alain's photo

Waxwings avoided us all day, going over Titchwell whilst we seawatched, then again later as we were on the bus to Holkham. It was almost funny by the time we reached Holkham, where they'd been seen half an hour earlier, alongside a group found in Kings Lynn once we'd left there too. Oh well...
Holkham was, as always, a treat. The weather had cleared by the time we arrived, and so time was split between bashing through pines looking for migrants, and scanning the sea. The pines were reasonably quiet, aside from a few more Yellow-browed Warbler and Crossbill. A bunting sp gave us the slip in a patch of bushes, so with what little time remained we watched Little Gulls, Kittiwakes and waders from the dunes. A mini highlight was a passerine going through at head height, calling as we pursued it over the dunes to reveal itself as a Brambling. In-off migration, so good.

Sanderling - Alain's photo

We didn't get a Short-eared Owl or Hen Harrier at dusk, but did get to watch Pink-footed geese and a Starling murmuration developing over Lady Anns Drive, reaching many thousand as we left for our bus. The day felt like it ended without that one star bird - we may have gotten 105 species, but felt like it missed that major rare. Nonetheless, we were not at all disappointed. It was a much needed, lovely away day, where we all got exactly what we wanted and needed - time away, on the coast, watching migration at some top birding spots. The next trip awaits, soon...