Monday, 1 March 2010

Norfolk birding trip - Holkham

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.


carl said...

Great blog Jenny. The next time you come here to Norfolk try a tour with us!
Norfolk Birders Tour from Wildlife Tours and Education



Anonymous said...

Oh Jen, I think you went a week too early as the weather has improved from today and should be reasonable the rest of the week.

We have had one or two Taiga Bean spotted locally. Sea watching, I'm surprised you didn't find yourself in it a few times. {:)

Look forward to the rest of the photos.

Rural Rambler said...

Hi Jen! I am glad the rain didn't spoil your fun. Some great pictures and provided you with a beautiful new header! The beach pictures at the Holkham Hall link are awesome, the sand looks butterscotch in color. The scarce Taiga Bean Goose has some very pretty feathers. I think beaches are at their very best when they are blessedly peaceful :)

Mary said...

I'm sorry you didn't find your woodpecker, but you found other great things. That bark looks almost like the wind has wrapped it tightly around the tree. Love the geese....I've never seen all those different geese you mention. The distant shots of the deer are lovely....they look so natural and in their element.

Chris said...

Hi Jenny,
Maybe you did not get the woodpecker but I would have signed for all these geese... Barnacle, pink-footed, bean, and white-fronted! Not too bad! If we want to see them over here we have to go in the North and center of the country! Well the bean has only been spotted once or twice!
You got nice pictures there despite the bad weather!

Eve said...

Well you sure got some great geese and that Barn Owl is a great find! You got some beautiful photos!! I love the tree bark too! And the new header is just wonderful. Looking forward to more Jenny!
PS it's snowing again in northern Alabama!!

Jenny said...

Hi Carl, many thanks for dropping in and commenting on my blog. I wish I could get up to Norfolk more often!

Hi Roy, I've usually been quite lucky with winter weather in Norfolk. I guess I was bound to get a rainy trip one of these days. It was still a great trip though if slightly soggy! (-:

Hi Pix, I expect your Florida beaches were much like that one at Holkham only the sand was more silver! (-:

Hi Mary, someone told me that the tree is most likely a Sweet Chestnut with bark like that. Amazing texture!

Hi Chris, in fact, we had 8 species of geese that day which is very good going. Brent, Barnacle, Bean, Pink-footed, Egyptian, Greylag, White-fronted and Canada. There was a vagrant Snow Goose around, but we didn't manage to catch up with that I'm afraid! (-:

Hi Evie, I love that sand dune header too. It was nice to hunker in amongst those dunes for a bit of shelter whilst trying to sea watch!

cindyzlogic said...

I really enjoyed your post! I've never been to the UK and enjoy learing and seeing through your blog!

Jenny said...

Hi there Cindy. I'm glad you're enjoying our Brit birds and wildlife. (-:

Quiet Paths said...

It's great to see you've been out and about doing what you love - even in the rain. All of these photos are so very peaceful and that beach is just my kind of beach.

Jenny said...

Hi Christine, I thought you'd like that beach! (-: It was a great trip with some good birds and great company!