Trip reports

Social weekend to Norfolk 11th to 13th May 2019

Social weekend to Norfolk 11th to 13th May 2019
Robert Haigh

Thursday, 11 July 2019

After pickups the 2 busses met at the bus stop near the M1 intersection at Bretton where Heather & Steve Chippendale transferred to the larger bus. Afterwards both busses with 18 people aboard set off south for the breakfast stop at Blyth Services on the A1.
The weather was cloudy, but fine as drove to our 1st stop at RSPB Frampton Marsh, arriving there at around 10:00. David Hemmingway had seen on line that recent work had produced some much wetter areas in the fields at the back of the reserve so we set off down the hedgerow path to view this new area. It certainly had attracted a quality selection of birds with Avocet, Greenshank, Redshank, Black-tailed-Godwit & Lapwing. However, it was Ruff that took centre stage, with several summer plumaged males were Lekking, attracting an audience of females. It was a 1st sighting for most members of the group and the sight of them were really appreciated by everyone present. Also there was a fine summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Cuckoo and Turtle Dove. Overhead were a considerable number of Swifts with a few Swallows. Frampton had certainly proved a worthwhile stop on the way to Norfolk and before leaving Frampton lunch was taken.
Before leaving Frampton David Hemmingway discovered that there were some Dotterel in a Field nr Choosley Drying Barns so we decided to make that our next stop. We arrived at the field at 14:00 finding many Birdwatchers already there so we had to park the busses up by the barns and on the walk back Corn Bunting and Whitethroat were heard and seen. Out in the field were 10 Dotterel passing through on their way north to breed. There was some heat haze, but everyone managed to view them through their scopes. Also seen here was Skylark, Common Buzzard & Yellowhammer.
David had also seen that the Purple Heron at Burnham Overy Staithe was still around so of we in pursuit. Burnham Overy is a Pretty Norfolk village with many flint cottages & a free car park, just be aware of high tides! So we set off on the sea wall to the east of the village and soon found other birdwatchers looking for the Heron which at the time was hard to see, but other birds were seen, Brent Geese were on the salt marsh, Oystercatchers, singing Sedge Warblers, Potchard & Little Egret.
After a short while The Purple Heron decided to move and came out of the ditch giving great views for all. Some time was spent here in this very beautiful setting and other birds were seen Male & Female Marsh Harrier, Grey Heron, Avocet, Curlew Bar-tailed Godwit, a distant Little Tern, then a Spoonbill & finally a cracking summer plumaged Grey Plover. What a tremendous selection of birds & a great end to our 1st day's bird watching.
We woke up to affine sunny morning at the Wensum Lodge Hotel, Fakenham by the river Wensum were we got good views of Grey Wagtail & further up the River a Pair of Mute Swans with 3 cute little cygnets. After breakfast we set of for Weybourne were a Great Spotted Cuckoo had been showing for a while, but unfortunately we were unable to park the busses.
Moving on we drove to nearby Pretty Corner Wood, which indeed was pretty. There were not many birds showing, but we had good views of Nuthatch, chiffchaff and Black Cap and Goldcrest were either heard or seen. This wood does have breeding Firecrest, but they were only heard not seen.
We then drove a short distance to Kelling Heath which also was a little quiet, but we did see Red-legged partridge, Garden Warbler, Stonechat and Yellow Hammer, but not Wood Lark or Dartford Warbler. The North Norfolk Railway did provide a passing WD 2-8-0 steam train though. Lunch was taken in the car park here and there were more sightings of singing Garden Warblers here.
David thought suggested visiting Clay Marshes. So it was discussed & it was agreed we should try there if there was parking available for the busses. It was another short journey to the reserve and there was ample parking so we had a couple of hours on the reserve and good views were had of a cracking Male Garganey, Little Ringed Plover, and a Berwick's Swan! Some Common Sandpiper, Egyptian geese and a good few others. Leaving at16:00 David decide to visit 1 last venue before returning to Fakenham.
Driving inland we arrived at Swanton Novers Raptor watch point which looked very quiet, but it was pleasant and sunny so we stayed for 40 minutes, but only Common Buzzard, Yellowhammer, Long tailed tit, whitethroat, stock dove, goldfinch, swallow and Reed Bunting. Not the expected Hobby or Red kite that are often seen there. So we left at 5:15 and returned to the hotel.
On our final day Monday we awoke to another sunny morning with further sightings of Grey Wagtails on the river. Leaving the hotel we set off for the Spotted Cuckoo site thinking it might be quieter and yes it was a little quieter, but difficult for the larger bus and as we were asked to move it as a tractor was using the road we decide to move on. The smaller mini bus managed to park so those who were in it set off for the cuckoo, but after waiting for quite a while didn't manage to see it. However they did see a Wryneck which was about 6 minutes' walk from the cuckoo. The group in the other bus then journeyed west along the coast to Wells Wetland a new site to the east of the town. Were there was a distant Wood sandpiper which was difficult in the hazy conditions. Better views were had of a singing whitethroat and a Common buzzard. After this we moved on to Lady Anne's drive and walked to the Washington hide and on the way we had close views of Grey Partridge. On the Marsh there were plenty of Little Egrets and at least 4 Marsh Harriers. Arriving back at the bus a Spoonbill flew west. We then setoff for our final venue Titchwell Marsh were we met up with the other bus which had just parked. We had 3 hours there and even after 2 days birding we were able to add more species to our lists which for some people included a good view of a singing Cetti's Warbler other birds seen included; Little gull, Sandwich Tern, Knot, Turnstone Sanderling, Red Crested Potchard and a Grey Heron eating a huge eel. Titchwell always has a great selection of birds and never disappoints. We left for dinner and home at 4; 30pm and everyone said they had enjoyed a good 3 days birding. Most people had bird lists of 95-110 David Hemmingway got 107 I got 95 and the group list was probably 110+.

David Hemmingway Group Leader
edited for the website by Robert Haigh