Today, predominantly triggered by poor local birding, I went on a 350-mile drive around East Anglia with my companion Will Bowell and his offensive red shoes (see image below). It turned out to be a very mixed trip - we dipped a few things and also had some nice bits and bobs along the way.
First stop was Wereham (Norfolk), where a Dotterel had been seen the previous evening. Arriving at around 07:50, we failed to locate the bird - it later transpired that it had flown off at 07:35. Rather than piss about, we moved on to a Breckland site where at least six Golden Pheasants were heard, two of them affording fantastic views. A Nightingale was also in sub-song and a Yellow Wagtail flew overhead. Nearby, a heath produced two Stone Curlews showing well on territory, albeit slightly distant. Our final Breckland site was Mayday Farm, where a Goshawk displayed and a Woodlark sang.
Without really realising, we soon found ourselves on the north wall at Breydon Water, where a 3rd-summer Yellow-legged Gull was blogging about but the American Golden Plover had 'done one'. To cheer ourselves up, we indulged ourselves with copious amounts of fast food from a nearby McDonalds.
Southwold (Suffolk) was our next desination, where the green-ringed juvenile Glaucous Gull was strutting its stuff on the jetty at the mouth of the harbour, but there wasn't alot else knocking about. Westleton Heath produced the unavoidable Dartford Warblers, and lazing around overlooking Minsmere RSPB from Dunwich Heath produced my first singing Reed Warblers of the year, along with a Sandwich Tern past offshore and several Mediterranean Gulls getting down and dirty on the scrapes.
Juvenile Glaucous Gull
A male Black Redstart was singing between the power stations at Sizewell, and there was plenty of Kittiwake activity offshore. Waxwings have been lingering in Ipswich, so we decided to pop our heads in, alas to no avail. There was also no news on the lingering Purple Heron in the Shingle Street area, so we headed south in to Essex.
Nuclear-frazzled Black Redstart
Eventually we arrived at Maldon (after much swearing and problems with finding the site), and the Lesser Yellowlegs was duly on show at appalling distance as it fed on the Blackwater Estuary, viewed from the recycling plant. Much more impressive was the congregation of gloriously-plumaged Icewits (c.400), as well as 3 Avocets and a couple of Greenshanks.
Will Bowell actively birding at Maldon in Allwood-style converse.
So - a brief account of what turned in to a surprisingly exhaustive and stressful day, with more dips than hits. The joys of competitive year listing.... good luck for 2009, Will...