I've just come back from spending a few days birding on the north Norfolk coast with three friends. The weather forecast was pretty dire and it didn't disappoint! Nevertheless, we did manage to get some birding in and had great fun along the way. One of our target birds was Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, a sparrow sized Woodpecker which is very very hard to see. It is declining badly and one of my friends has never seen one. They've been seen in the mature woodlands at Holkham Hall in the past, so we thought we'd have a go at finding one in the grounds there. Click on the link to find out more about this imposing mansion.
Despite diligent looking and listening, we didn't manage to find one I'm afraid. At least the trees protected us from the rain a bit though!
I don't know what this tree is, but I love the deeply crevessed twisted bark.
There's a herd of deer live in the park. It would have been nice to get closer for some better photos, but apparently the owners don't like visitors to get too close and spook them. I quite like these two distant shots I got though.
Just along the road from Holkham Hall, we found a small flock of geese feeding in a field. We were really pleased to find Barnacle Geese as these are usually found wintering up in Scotland. It was also nice to see a decent flock of White-fronted Geese.
We were expecting more Pink-footed Geese as they winter on the Norfolk coast in their thousands. There were only one or two in the flock though.
One goose that we were particularly pleased to find and identify was this lone Taiga Bean Goose. It was a bit distant for a good photo, but I was pleased to get a record shot of this scarce species to Britain.
The rain seemed to have eased of a bit, so we decided to risk walking out onto Holkham beach to do a spot of sea watching and to look for Shorelarks.
The sand dunes are a favourite place for Snow Buntings to forage during the winter months, but we didn't find any on this occasion.
Sea watching proved somewhat frustrating as the tide was well out and also there was a sea mist making visibility difficult. We did see a flock of Common Scoter out there, but not much else.
In the summer months, I imagine this beach would be heaving with humanity. On this wet winters day, it was blessedly peaceful.
It wasn't long before we abandoned our sea watch and walked inland from the dunes to search or Shorelarks (Horned Larks in the USA). Alas, despite a lovely walk along the coast we didn't manage to catch up with these winter visitors to our shores.
As we were making our way back to the car, we were lucky enough to catch sight of a Barn Owl hunting over the sere winter grassland.
There will be more to come from Norfolk in my next post.