Thursday, 10 January 2008

'The White Crowned Wonder'

Sunday 6th January was going to be a day out in the Dungeness area but due to a slight car problem I opted for North Kent 'again' visiting Cliffe and the Allhallows area. My efforts revealed a female Scaup on the Timber Lake at Cliffe, a Peregrine zipping through, a Black Swan (say no more) with 4 Mute Swans and a male Scaup on the RSPB pools and at Coombe Bay, and St Mary's Bay area, 1100+ Knot, 379 Brent Geese and lots of Gulls though sadly no Caspers!! Whilst wandering around North Kent I was acutely aware of a MEGA in North Norfolk, a White-crowned Sparrow that had been blown off course from North America presumably quite a while before and found a garden in Cley, Norfolk to be to it's liking. Only the fourth ever to turn up in Britain, it was a popular bird and despite rarely leaving the county these days, Tuesday 8th January and I was waiting patiently for no more than 25 minutes for the bird to show to the gathered crowd of 20 or so birders. Our luck was in and the bird showed well on and off for the next hour or so along with an early morning Brambling and a flyover Yellowhammer.

The Sparrow remained faithful to the garden feeding on grain thoughtfully placed on the gravel drive of the house visible to a gathered throng of people waiting patiently. The food had been carefully located in order that the bird would be visible to birders thus allowing a constant turn over of people. The bird is shown above, my best effort considering the poor light and viewing conditions.
Happy with our haul, we set off to Cley reserve and located a Water Pipit quietly feeding amongst Linnets on a field behind the reserve centre.
Next stop, Salthouse beach car park and the Lapland Buntings (2) and 50+ Snow Bunting showed superbly on the shingle and grassy slopes feeding on the grain that had been place there throughout the winter. Offshore there was a male Eider, 10+ Red-throated Divers but little else moving.
Heading west towards Wells we tried for the Black Brant in the harbour but had to make do with a pair of Goldeneye, a Kingfisher perched inside a boat!!! a male Hen Harrier and 20+ Knot.
Desperate for a pit stop and some grub we rested at Holkham Park but bird wise it was very quiet with a few White-fronted Geese, several flocks of Pink-footed Geese overhead and a few Marsh Harrier
Last port of call 'or so we thought' was the Wighton area just inland of Wells with literally 1000's of Pink-footed Geese, a distant 'white' Goose possibly a Ross's and a brilliant Buzzard and 3 Tree Sparrow also vying for attention.
Heading off home a last minute change of plan to take a 5 minute look at Lynford for Hawfinch gave us Marsh Tit, Firecrest and Great spotted Woodpecker.
Not a bad days work, and a change of scenery from North Kent....Excellent stuff.

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