Tuesday, 26 January 2016
North- West Norfolk trip
On Sunday 24th January, following a tweet from John H, I joined both him and Tony S on a trip to Abbey farm, Flitcham for the Pallid H. What a wonderful farm this was, a true advert for a wildlife friendly farm, with tall hedges, winter wheat crops in fields and lots and lots of farmland birds, it was without doubt my best ever farmland birding. A veritable oasis! We arrived and joined around 40 or so birders scanning a large field where the Harrier was regularly seen. Initially, we saw 2 then 14 Bramblings perched in the hedgerow opposite. A female Hen Harrier, heavily streaked flew right low over the field. In the field itself around 120 Linnets , flying around in the field we were looking in. In a distant field by the hedgerow, perched in a small tree was one excellent Buzzard, it later flew and perched on the field. A second Buzzard flew right over the field. Amongst those Linnets was a lone Fieldfare, then 14 Fieldfares flew over, later on 6 Redwings flew by. Bullfinches heard are proved to be 2 smart male Bullfinches. 2 Kestrels also seen. A funny "chirrup" revealed a Tree Sparrow flying in and perching high in the bush. Around 6 Chaffinches were also seen, whilst looking right, a load of birds flew down from these bushes, 4 Bramblings were again seen and then an incredible tally of 14 Tree Sparrows. By the barn, a male Sparrowhawk flew low over the field. Another, a second female Hen Harrier flew right over the fields. Perched in the hedge by the barn was another Tree Sparrow, resplendent with its chestnut crown and black cheek patch. Finally at around 12.10pm, flying in from the left and across towards us, the excellent immature male Pallid Harrier, complete with slimmer build and wings with dark chocolate collar and orange- buff underparts flew low over the field and away over the hedge and then flew right above the horizon and then out of sight. Without doubt this is the best most prolific birding I have undertaken on farmland. Next stop was Tottenhill gravel Pits, driving down and then taking a road to the left we saw a large stretch of water viewable through the trees, walking over to the far right, we saw a close winter- plumaged Black- necked Grebe, it swam left and then finally flew a little way and then dived. The next bird that surfaced was a Great crested Grebe. Driving up to Old Hunstanton, we parked along the seafront by the lighthouse, along the cliff tops we saw around 4 Fulmars soaring over at cliff level height, we walked down to the very rocky beach, the cliffs were showed wonderful different coloured stripes of geological strata. Sitting on the cliffs were at least 6 pairs of Fulmars, 2 single bird and 1 group of 3. As we walked left along the beach for around 300 yards a group of around 40 people were surrounding the incredibly sad sight of the carcass of a dead young male Sperm Whale. A large being around 40 feet in length, we approached its tail first of all and the walking around the carcass, it was all too evident of the suffering that this poor noble creature had suffered with a gouge out of the body, reddened areas of the body and a pool of blood around the front and back of the body. It was incredibly sad. Around 40 people were surrounding it many taking selfies with it which wasn't something I would condone. The lower mandible of the Poor Whale had been sawed off for testing by the Cetacean Society. Walking further north, on a better note I was able to photograph the Fulmars on the cliffs. 2 of them were a particularly warring pair.