Wow, what a day. So good to be out for a full day, great company, brilliant birding, good weather - can't ask for much more can I?
Headed off with James to the NW coast. Started off at Snettisham RSPB as the tides were right. The main departure of the roosting Pink-footed Geese was a bit too early for photography, but the 10,000 (?)-strong noisy mass was very impressive as they passed overhead and headed east towards their feeding sites in N Norfolk:
And then as the tide came up the shorebirds started moving towards the roost at Pit 4, so we followed them there. Unfortunately, the hides that were destroyed in the December 2013 have not been restored yet. So, if anyone from the RSPB reads this, please make some effort to get these hides operating again, because at the moment the viewing conditions are not welcome. Anyway, we managed to find ourselves an inch and a half of clear view, and watched the thousands of Knot and Oyestercatcher fly in to roost. Knot in a very tight flock, Oystercatcher in a looser, noisy group. Nice to catch up with some good friends there.
And when they fly up for some reason, the show begins:
Over above the mudflats impressive whirling flocks of Barwits and Knot did their obligatory performance, but we were a bit too distant to appreciate:
On the way out this pretty drake Goldeneye was attractive enough:
Our next stop was Huntstanton Tesco. First coffee and sandwiches, then we crossed the road to the coach park where Waxwings were seen over the last few days. Apparently the berries on their bush have all been eaten up, so they are more mobile now. As we approached James spotted from a fair distance one Waxwing perched just above the Pay and Display sign... I asked James: "It will let us approach, won't it?". James answered: "Of course.". I thought to myself, let's put the coffee and sandwich aside for a second and get an insurance distant record shot. James laughed at me, but sure enough two clicks later and it was up and off and gone. Despite searching through gardens and hedges in the general direction where we saw it flying too, it wasn't relocated.
Melanistic form of wankwing
We headed south and paid the Wolverton Triangle a quick visit. James has a tradition of trying for the Golden Pheasents there each time he is in the area, and always fails. Today was not different...
Then we continued on to Welney WWT. Short walk into the main hide, and we arrived just before noon feeding session. There weren't too many swans about, only 20 something Whoopers and more mutes. However they are so pretty and impressive that we enjoyed the entertainment very much. Unfortunately the main hides are shit for photography (next time we will book the photography hide in advance).
I was impressed by the local guide Katy who talked really well while feeding the swans:
There was a bit of pushing and shoving when Katy was feeding:
Pochard - so pretty, deserves some focus, don't you think?
By the Nelson-Lyle hide there were 13 Tundra Bean Geese - quite distant so digiscoped them with Swarovski ATX 95 and Canon 7D:
Eurasian Wigeon - digiscoped with Swarovski ATX 95 and Canon 7D
On the way back onto the A11 we encountered some mixed flocks of Whooper and Bewick's Swans loafing in the fields:
And near Prickwillow (love this name) we had a hunting Barn Owl - unfortunately for the bird and for us it had one bad eye - always on my side...
Thanks to James for his good company and driving!