The third day of our trip. At sun rise it was a glorious start to the day but by 7:15am the sea fog rolled in. Strangely by 9am the fog had rolled out again revealing the sunshine. We all met down in the car park after breakfast and headed out to our first destination – Salthouse.
At Salthouse we expected to see Snow Buntings. Every year so far they have been pretty easy to find. This year however they were proving a challenge. There were a lot of bird watchers around, the car park was fairly full, and most had very large camera lenses. Around the car park were Turnstones and Black-headed Gulls. Some went and did a spot of sea watching whilst I stood enjoying the sunshine and the song of a Skylark over head. Also noted were a couple of Meadow Pipits.
Eventually a small flock of Snow Buntings did put in a, albeit brief, appearance before moving off again. Out on the sea there were Razorbills, Red-throated Divers, Common Scoters, Eider, Great Crested Grebes and the odd Wigeon. However there was one small auk that we had a lot of trouble identifying. I am not sure if it was pointed out to the group as I was not present at the point it was first spotted. The bird was much smaller and dumpier than a Razorbill but had a distinct short chunky bill. This bird turned out to be a 1st winter (?) Puffin! I personally have never seen one in this plumage or at this time of the year so it wasn’t the first thing that jumped to mind. It spent a lot of time diving but gave good views on a flat sea.
Another species that had been reported at Salthouse was a single Shore Lark. Asking other bird watchers it appeared that it was further east, down the beach and over a ridge. Most decided to take a punt and go to look. We trudged along the beach passing more bird watchers and eventually making it up on to the ridge. I walked on and got better views (and some photos) of the Snow Buntings but they weren’t close.
Dog walkers and joggers disturbed most things, they didn’t seem to care or were doing it on purpose. It does annoy me when people do that, what had we done to upset them in the first place? Any way, I digress… I spoke with another bird watcher who said that the Shore Lark was still showing well a little further down. I walked on and set down my telescope with a couple of others, and there, by a little pool was the Shore Lark. I phoned my father and those that walked on got views of the bird. Not exactly the finest sighting ever but we (to quote twitcher-speak) “connected” with the bird.
Everyone at this point had their own agenda and the group separated. We went to Cley, used the facilities and then walked down the East Wall. We got Bearded Tit, Ringed Plover and Gannets out on the sea, as well as even better views of the Puffin. We then popped in to Wells-next-the-Sea for some sustenance and headed on for Burnham Overy. We did rack up quite a collection of species here, as follows: Short-eared Owl, Pink-footed Geese, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese, Brent Geese, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Skylark, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Barn Owl, Goldcrest, Lapwing, Curlew, Pheasant and Woodpigeon (not to mention Chicken, Turkey and Farmyard Goose…).
Having spent pretty much all afternoon at Burnham Overy we only had time to make a stop at Wells-next-the-Sea boating lake and RNLI Lifeboat launch but as the light failed we didn’t add anything further to our list. We did however have the world’s first highway code savvy Barn Owl that came out of the Wells town centre T-junction and gave way until the coast was clear before flying in to the fields opposite.
The last day, Day Four, coming soon…