Saturday, 27 March 2010

North Norfolk, 27th March

Today was primarily focussed around having a second shot (this time with my wallet) at getting to Norfolk and seeing some Alpine Swifts. On hearing that both were still present, I got on the road at about 09:00, with first stop being the patch. Around 40 Lesser Redpolls were still being a nightmare to view properly, although the New Workings was much more satsfying - 5+ LRPs, 2 Ringed Plovers, Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers provided a nice selection of typical summering waders, with the star of the show being a single Dunlin there. Dunlin always seem to be good indicators of the quality of a site, so this early showing bodes well for the rest of the spring. Just a shame I will be in Sheffield really!

Battling through hordes of old people driving at ridiculously low speeds, I reached Hunstanton by around 10:45. Needless to say, the Alpine Swift had done one and it was not long before I was back on the road and heading for Cromer. Slow drivers were present in even higher densities along the A149 making for a torrid and stressful journey. As I drove through Sheringham, it suddenly occurred to me to go and have a look for the juvenile Glaucous Gull which has been wintering on the seafront. No sign of the Glauc, but I had a bit of a surprise when this 2nd-winter Caspian Gull appeared just offshore:

Second-winter Caspian Gull, Sheringham seafront.

When you are so used to seeing Caspian Gulls loafing on rubbish dumps or miles away on reservoirs somewhere in the English Midlands, the Sheringham bird seemed a little out of context - indeed, it is the first of its' kind I have seen in a coastal setting. A splendid brute of an individual, it was consistently aggressive towards the local Herring Gulls, and preferred a perch at the eastern end of the seafront. Whilst watching the beast a couple of other birders arrived, informing me that the Alpine Swift was still showing on and off near the lighthouse at Cromer. So, off I went and, after a short walk up to the lighthouse, there it was:

Alpine Swift @ Cromer.

This is only my second Alpine Swift in the UK, following a bird at Hampstead Heath in April 2006.

With little time to spare, I reluctantly left the bird and headed home for work. Overall, despite all the morons driving at moronic speeds across the county, it had turned out to be a fairly successful day. Big plans for next week, so watch this space - I'm hoping there will be something to write home about.

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