Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

North-East Norfolk - with 2 great birders

Tim Allwood, his wife Holly and their lovely 2 toddler, Eleanor put me up [and put up with me] for two nights at Sea Palling and very grateful I was too. Lovely people and Tim's knowledge and attitude was so impressive.

26th November 2010

Early out to sea watch with Andy Kane. Andy proved to be a person of forthright views and fabulous skills. A privilege to sit with both on the sand dunes in very cold, wild sea conditions. Red-throated divers passing and various duck species in varying numbers too. Snow buntings closer in, flying past heading south.

After this I cycled to Stalham to search for the mythical Sutton Fen RSPB reserve. Now this place is reputed to have had less people visit it in the past than climbers atop Everest. Down various dirt tracks to get views of the edges of the huge expanse of reed and alder carr; sheltering when necessary from the frequent snow showers. Not many birds; marsh harriers being the best and a superb close by female sparrowhawk.

Back to Tim's for an evening's birdy natter.

27th November 2010

Another early morning seawatch but this time I walked alone to the rendezvous along the beach. Really wild, very windy easterly this morning and the sea was covered with froth from the crashing waves.

A group of 5 purple sandpipers were very approachable and snow buntings were present in small numbers. On getting to Andy and Tim's prefered viewpoint, found them both sheltering from the wind as best as they could and was told a pomarine skua had been reasonably close in. Now I need one for the year so a tad disappointed with the news. Fewer birds moving today and a very distant skua sp. was uncountable. Consolation prize was a close in little auk on the sea.

Said goodbye to the Allwoods and cycled to meat up with a group of people celebrating the 50th birthday of one of their friends. Now I knew none of these lovely people but had been invited to stay because one of their number, Vaughan Evans is a birder and had seen my blog. His suggestion that I stay with them at a superb converted barn complex, was very welcome indeed; as was the food and bath. The party revellers seemed very genuine in their interest on who I was, what I was doing and what my mental state was! Thanks to them all. Special thanks to the birthday girl and Bernie and Lewis, as well as Vaughan. [Ta for the Jaffa cakes]

28th November 2010

Up early and off in very cold icy conditions to Great Yarmouth. Raided the Harry Ramsden rubbish bins to find bags of cold chips, disguarded from the previous evening. Armed with these and in the company of a young campervaner, Tim [how many Tims I've met in the last few days], chips were chucked onto the beach for a good number of Mediterranean gulls. Fabulous to see all plumages amongst these beautiful gulls. Thanks Tim for the donation too.

Cycled to Breydon Water RSPB reserve and walked the sea wall. Very low tide and most birds, particularly duck were out on the mud some way off. The early morning sun had by now disappeared and mist was descending. Phoned my Dad to discuss the England turnaround in the First Test - Come on England!

Found a way to get to Bernay Marshes without having to walk the four miles from Breydon along the sea wall via a brilliant medieval church at Wickhampton. Sheltered in here and was delighted to see amazing large medieval paintings on the walls of the church.

All alone I explored the edge of Bernay Marshes with marsh harriers, various waders and a good number of pink-footed geese seen; the snow and mist adding to the 'Snow Goose' atmosphere. Now I say this as this must be the sort of place that Paul Gallico thought about when writing his wonderful novel, The Snow Goose. I could almost imagine Frith running along the bridleway holding the injured goose.

Got to Buckenham and then Strumpshaw RSPB reserve to see the starling roost; the best one I'd seen this year. Around 10,000 starlings wheeling tightly because of the attentions of two sparrowhawks and a marsh harrier.

Back to Buckenham in the dark to find a place to sleep.

All the very best to everyone,


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