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WEATHER: another very windy day, dry with some sunny breaks. Temp  6C

Well, I do not have a lot to write about for most of the day except that we missed all of our target birds, it was Friday 13th after all!  We made a third attempt to see the Hume’s Leaf Warbler and we dipped on that one. It was cold and blustery with a strong westerly wind, the bird failed to call or show. During our one hour vigil we saw Reed Bunting, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, lots of Pink-footed Geese, a couple of Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel.

Next, we tried for the small flock of Twite which had been frequenting Blakeney Freshmarsh for the last two weeks. We saw more waders than Twite: namely, Redshanks, Dunlin, Sanderling and Grey Plover. At the Twite site it was blowing a real gale, it wasn’t possible to use a scope effectively and it was cold. We saw a couple of flocks of Linnets but nothing that resembled a Twite. The best part of our visit to Blakeney was the hot chocolate that we had in the harbour cafe!

We moved onto Cley Reserve in the hope of seeing Long-billed Dowitcher, Little Stint and a possible Water Pipit. Of those three species guess how many we saw? You are right….none of them. We spent sometime looking over the pools from the three central hides, scanning the edges for waders and pipits, we found a dozen or so of Dunlin, our first Common Snipe (3) of the trip, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Avocets. Plenty of ducks were feeding in the pools, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard and one or two Pintails.

some Avocets with Teal, Lapwing and a Black-headed Gull

After the hides we drove round to the beach at the back of the reserve where we stood beneath a seated shelter to scan the sea. A Few Red-throated Divers bobbed on the water, with Cormorants, a single Guillemot and to our great surprise three Teal sat out there. Before giving up, Guy got onto an auk that was flying fast towards us and very close, just offshore. As it got closer we could see that it large white wing patches, it was of course a tystie, a Black Guillemot. It was in winter plumage. A great find by Guy and number 150 on my year list!

record shot of a Red-throated Diver

Our mood picked up as we headed westward back along the coast to Titchwell. At Titchwell there was another three birds which would enhance our year list, Brambling, Whooper Swan and Spotted Redshank. Guess how many we saw of those three species? Right again….none of them.

However, we did enjoy the huge number of birds on the reserve and we added Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit to our day list. We sifted through the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls looking for a Med or something even rarer, without luck!

Spoonbills at Titchwell

It was getting very dull even though the sky was quite clear, a Barn Owl appeared on Thornham Marsh, Guy spotted it way out, a great find, we watched through our scopes. Then as it got dark we walked to the woodland near the ‘Fen Hide’ to look for more Woodcock after seeing at least 10 last night along Lady Anne’s Drive, Holkham. It was calm, no wind in the sheltered woodland. Before long we had seen 6 Woodcock, flying out of the woods in the direction of Thornham Marsh. We had brief, but great views of all of them.

Dunlin on Pat's Pool, Cley

As we walked away towards the car park a Tawny Owl called from the direction of the car park. With the light behind the trees we saw the the silhouette of the owl, it was calling all the time. It moved twice whilst we were watching and it even flew over the top of us. That was great, a superb finale to our not-so productive day. I ended the day with my list at 152 for the year, the two owl species making that four species for the year, we onlky need to see Short-eared Owl for the set!