Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Top Trumps in Norfolk 3rd June 2008.

Little Tern sitting in the harbour at Morston Quay

Can you see me?

crap shot of the Trumpeter Finch!

The target of the day was the Trumpeter Finch which had been on Blakeney Point, Norfolk for the previous few days. Leaving Leicester at around 4.45am in Dave Mack's car, we drove as quickly as possible with the help of Jane at TomTom to get to Morston for the boat crossing to Blakeney point at around 6.45am. Although we missed the boat by five minutes when we arrived at Morston quay, Bishop boats were excellent in there service as there did come back for us and ferried us over to the point at no extra cost. Reaching the point it only took myself and Dave Mack another ten minutes to walk to sea watching hide and excellent views of the Trumpeter Finch feeding on the shingle. Result!!

Watching the finch for the next half an hour, I took a few record shots of the bird,and then we took a slow walk back to the dropping point. At this point, Dave noted that one of the birders was none other than the actor Sean Wilson aka Martin Platt of Coronation Street fame. I was tempted to ask him for a photo for the blog, but decided against it as he probably gets it all the time from the general public.

The boat picked us up again at around 8.20am, with lots of happy faces on it, and arrived back at the quay within ten minutes of leaving the point. A brief stop at Stiffkey Village, had Dave scoring with the very mobile Hoopoe, but I wasn't quick enough, as the bird flew over the nearby houses. As the Hoopoe didn't show for the next half an hour,we decided to move on to the local Monty's site. Driving around the local lanes, we picked up the male Montagu's Harrier, as it flew slowly over the nearby road. Then viewing from the watch point we saw a couple of Marsh Harriers and the male Monty's again briefly. I must admit that Montagu's Harrier is probably my favourite bird of prey, and it's always a pleasure to see this rare raptor in the UK.

Our final stop of the day was Lakenheath RSPB reserve on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. This site is well known for breeding Golden Orioles, so we were hoping of maybe catching up with this attractive bird. Walking down to the main viewpoint we heard at least two Golden Orioles calling in the nearby plantation, but as usual there were very elusive in there appearance. Scanning over the large reedbed from the main viewpoint, we saw a couple of Marsh Harriers and then I picked up a small raptor sitting in a distant dead tree. Looking at the raptor I thought straight the way that the bird was the long staying female Red-footed Falcon, due to the fact of its small size and distinctive creamy head. Although most of the other birders at viewpoint were sceptical of the sighting due to the distance to the bird, I think if it hadn't viewed it through my Kowa 773 (probably the best scope on the market at the moment?)I wouldn't have been so confident of the ID of the bird. As the visibility improved over the reedbed, the bird became easier to see and the birders agreed with my identification. At around the same time, a Bittern flew over the reedbed, which was nice to see, and then to put the icing on the cake, two Common Cranes flew out of the reedbed and we heard there distinctive trumpet calls as there flew over the watchpoint.

As time was now pressing myself and Dave Mack decided that this was a good point to head home and reflected on an excellent day's birding with a couple of top trumps!!

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