Thursday bore witness to a rare commodity, nowadays. A day off, to go twitching. I joined Mike Dawson (leader of Norfolk's entry in Champions of the Flyways 2018), Yoav Perlman and Chris Sharpe to see the Dorset Ross's Gull. I say 'see'... but we dipped. Commiserations to Chris, in particular, as this was his first twitch since 1987, when he saw the Cley Slender-billed Gulls... To be honest, I can't add anything useful to Yoav's amusing blog on 'the best [i.e. most enjoyable] dip ever', other than to offer a few photos.First up, a drake Eurasian Teal.
Surprise of the day - and swanky bird of the day too - was Common Snipe. I have never seen this bird in anything larger than straggling groups. Today, at Lodmoor, there was a single flock of 150-180 birds flying around regularly. Quite astonishing. Never seen anything like it. The most I managed to get in a single frame was 85 birds, and that wasn't even half the flock. Here's a picture of a mere score of birds.
On Friday, I headed to Holt Lowes to research a route for a book I am writing on Norfolk walks. As I was driving up, Josh Jones messaged to say he had just counted 17 male Adders there. A few minutes later, Josh was showing me several of the individuals, including on particularly confiding male. In total I had a dozen individuals, all sluggish after the recent snow. Every single encounter was thrilling. i sure am glad to be back amongst these guys.
Mediterranean Gulls were a major feature of the day. Not sure how many we saw around the place, but probably 200+, including 150++ roosting in Weymouth Bay in the evening. I love these beasts. Still rare enough to thrill, and always striking to look at. And that call!
An hour later, I was watching my daughter play notable in Holt, and preparing to take her to a party in south Norfolk later that afternoon. Then all hell broke loose with the discovery of the Scolt Head Island Snowy Owl. Arrangements were swiftly made with a fellow parent who has a big car, and my daughter travelled south with them after the match, whereas I hurried west to enjoy the big first-winter female, as watched from Burnham Deepdale. I've only seen one Snowy Owl anywhere before - the Lincolnshire bird of 1990/1991 - and dipped one on North Uist a few years ago, this was a very pleasant sight indeed, as well as being a Norfolk tick.The bird was distant, however, so my photos are rubbish. A tammy knee, twisted that morning at Holt Lowes, prevented me from joining Dave Andrews and co. out on the saltmarsh, from where the bird was several hundred metres less distant.