After my meeting I headed back to the stadium in the hope that it would return and have a fly around before going to roost, as it had done on previous days. A crowd was gathered and as dusk approached it wasn't looking hopeful. Then someone picked it up in the stadium, but I didn't get on it. We waited a bit but there was no more sign. Some of us headed down to the end of the stand where it was possible to look along the length of the stadium, but there was nothing. Obviously it had gone to roost, and we had dipped.
Most of the crowd departed as the light faded and I returned to the car park with Chris. As we chatted I noticed the few remained at the end of the stand were all looking and pointing, so rushed down to see if there was a reason for their activity. There was - it had been seen again. Too dark to see it properly under the stand but it had flown out and back in a couple of times. And it did so twice more while I was there. Success! Of sorts. I'd seen my first UK Crag Martin, but it was two split-second glimpses of a silhouetted chunky-looking hirundine in the dark. Not quite the views I was hoping for, but at least I saw it. It'll go on the list if only because there's absolutely no point in me investing any more time or petrol in seeing another one in the UK - they're easy enough to see in southern Europe.
I think the 3 Grey Wagtails that flew over the stadium in the morning were better.
All week the forecast promised a good northerly blow on Saturday and unusually that was still the forecast when dawn broke on Saturday. I was there early and enjoyed several hours of a thrilling, if often frustrating, sea watch. I suppose the headline birds were the Little Auks. For some reason I was really struggling to get on these - and indeed most things - this morning, and consequently I only saw a fraction of the birds that passed. My total was 20, but I missed more than double that many. These two moved through with a flock of Dunlin:
Little Auks (and Dunlin), Sheringham, 21st November
Other seabirds were a similar story - I saw 3 Sooty Shearwaters but several Manx were called as well, none of which I saw. I missed the first Grey Phalarope but did managed to pick up another Grey Phalarope, despite not managing to see it well enough to have the confidence of calling it (other than a 'what's this wader?'). The guys in my section were preoccupied with a Pom Skua but someone called the Phalarope from the neighbouring section. And talking of skuas I saw 8 Pomarine Skuas, or at least 8 Skuas that I was reasonably happy were Pomarine - quite a few others were called which I wasn't personally sure about. I logged a single Arctic Skua and an impressive 135 Great Skuas, but there were a fair few skuas that I had to leave unidentified. Also 35 Little Gulls and 2 Great Northern Divers.
Red-throated Diver, Sheringham, 21st November
Probably the real highlight of the day was the wildfowl and wader passage. A record count of 141 Goldeneye (of which I saw 86) was fantastic, always enjoy seeing these moving. A total of 4 Goosanders was good too, not a species we see lots of on seawatches. Also 2 Scaup and 4 Velvet Scoter west, along with 10 Tufted Ducks, Pochard, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and at least 180 Common Scoter (all my personal counts, probably just a fraction of the total birds moving). Only 5 Eider was a surprise given how much else was moving.
No shortage of dabblers too, with over 700 Wigeon. Fewer Teal, though I'm sure my count of 40 was a very long way short of the mark. The next count wasn't a record but it was the highest number I've seen past Sheringham - 113 Pintail. Also 25 Mallard, 35 Shelduck and a good count of 12 Shoveler. Lots of waders moving too, though it was tricky to see them, let alone count them. I put 250 Dunlin down, but there must have been far more than that.
I tore myself away in order to get some lunch and considered twitching the Little Auk that was showing remarkably well on a pool at Salthouse. Unfortunately someone had seen fit to collect it, so that it could die overnight in a tub in someone's kitchen rather than in its natural environment. Really not sure "taken into care" is the correct expression to use when you remove something from the wild. It might make people feel better but it didn't help this Little Auk. Anyway, another had been seen in similar circumstances by the time I finished lunch so I headed over to see if I could find it. It was chucking it down and the 2-3 people out there didn't seem to be seeing it so I though better of it and continued on to Cley. I pulled up by the beach hotel really just to check with the observers there whether the sea was still quiet before heading off. Well it wasn't - James was there and he picked up a Leach's Petrel as I was asking the question. I leapt out but couldn't pick up his bird, though I did see 2 close Little Auks and another flock of 30 Pintail.