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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Western Sand; second lifer of 2011

Last Wednesday (30th November) I travelled down to London, to visit the O2 or as I prefer to call it, the Millenium Dome; at Greenwich to see my favourite band, Deep Purple playing together with a 38 piece orchestra. The concert was excellent with the Orchestra adding extra sound and especially swing on the jazzier numbers, the musicianship of the band was excellent as always, but Ian Gillan's vocals sounded a little tired half way through the set, well he is 65 years old! The only downer was the light show which seemed designed to give migraine suffers like myself problems, Strobe lighting and 6 strips of flashing light bars flashing blinding magnesium white light at you suspended from the ceiling just above the band ensured I spent a third of the time with my eyes shut!
I had a migraine that night and on the following friday night too, sadly missing a Xmas meal I was particularly looking forward to attending. A great shame.
On Thursday 1st December a walk through Greenwich park revealed separate fly overs of 2 pairs of Ring- necked Parakeets flying south, walking back a further 4 pairs of Ring- necked Parakeets flew over on several occasions, south over our heads.

On Saturday 3rd December, I picked up Ricky F and we headed up to North Norfolk,and near Weybourne just by the road on the south side of we spied around 300 Pink- footed Geese in the field.
At Cley we obtained permits, and we were glad to see Keith D and walked out together to the middle,ie. Daukes Hide.
The hide was reasonably full of birders, including Matthew D and I set up my scope and they were directing me to a group of Dunlin. Initially I couldn't see the bird that they were directing me to, it was an odd looking bird; short winged, very short billed (odd for a Western Sand surely??), very dumpy and pot-bellied but around the same size of Dunlin. I was confused! I think this bird was the unidentified wader, the odd looking Dunlin? It certainly wasn't the Western Sand. A bird then flew in, a much better candidaate, smaller than a Dunlin with a longish slightly down curved bill around half the size of a Dunlin bill , dark around the ear coverts contrasting with a lighter patch here too, rusty fringes on the back, with arrow heads on the scapulars, it was the excellent Western Sandpiper. The bird was often hunched up and would run quickly where it wanted to be and pick for food delicately on the ground. There was a flock of around 40 Dunlin with it, plus up to 10 Black- tailed Godwit too. This flock of small waders would frequently fly around and it flew very close on the edge of a spit right in front of us and showed well, around 15% smaller than the accompanying Dunlin, the buff spurs (ie white before and after) on the top flanks were a good ID pointer, the bird walked and fed delicately from the ground.
On our second visit to the hide, following lunch, we finally spied the unidentified wader, amongst a flock of Dunlin, like a Dunlin, same size and a very round, pot- bellied with short primaries and a very short bill. A Golden Plover flew past with a plaintive, mournful "teuu" call. 2 Ruff were seen at the back and then when some waders flew in the excellent Western Sandpiper was seen amongst the flock too. Over at Bishop hide, a Green- winged Teal swam behind a flock of c40 winter plumaged Black- tailed Godwit from Bishop Hide and between the island. The slightly larger size and white horizontal shoulder bar obvious when on view.
In the small grassy area, next to the car park, 2 extremely showy Lapwing posed for the cameras whilst on Cley Eye field around 2000 Golden Plover were seen perched together on the field occasionally flying up creating quite a spectacle!
A seawatch from Cley coastguards was amazingly good especially as we looked for just 20 minutes, the cold north-west wind limiting our seawatch today. At first a dark juvenile Gannet flew west, and then a family party of 5 Bewicks swans (2 adults and 3 grey immatures) then flew west. On the sea was a Guillemot, 60 Common Scoter all seemed to be females, 1 Red-throated Diver sat on the sea, whilst 2 singleton Goldeneye (both stunning males) flew west a mad dash onto the crown of the beach revealed a fine Little Auk flying west. Several 3 adults and 1 immature Kittiwake flew west and a few Auk, Guillemot flew west too.

On Sunday 4th December, a Green Woodpecker was seen on the garden lawn briefly from the lounge in the afternoon it was hopping back onto me along the lawn but had gone when I had retrieved the camera at 2.15pm.

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