A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A ton of longtails

I headed up to Holme early yesterday and made my way to Gore Point, taking care not to disturb the hundreds of waders roosting there over the high tide.  It was immediately apparent that there lots of Long-tailed Ducks on the sea but counting them was impossible - not only were they bobbing up and down behind the swell but they were diving too.  I got to a miminum of 90 but suspected there were double that many.  Eventually - after the best part of two hours - a lot of birds flew a short distance making it possible to count them.  Sadly they didn't fly very far and I'd only got to 42 before they went down again.  I wasn't anywhere near half way through the flock so I think it's safe to say there were over 100 Long-tailed Ducks.

In the meantime I had several sightings of Great Northern Diver flying past but it was difficult to know how many of them involved the same birds.  At one point there were 3 Great Northern Divers on the sea so a minimum of three, but I think it's likely there were 5-6.  There were a few Red-throated Divers out there and one diver flying east was almost certainly a Black-throated Diver though I decided I hadn't seen enough to claim it as 100%.

There were quite a few Great Crested Grebes offshore and after a while I picked up a Slavonian Grebe just offshore - the closest bird on the sea.

A single Scoter proved to be a Velvet Scoter.  A few Common Scoter flew in later but nowhere near as many Scoter off here as there have been off Titchwell.  Two groups totalling 37 Eider flew east at one point, the vast majority of birds being drakes.  Also a few Red-breasted Mergansers.

There seemed to be more Fulmars flying offshore than I've seen on recent visits to Titchwell - I suspect these weren't migrants but birds from Hunstanton.  As I headed back to the car I checked the flock of Pink-feet feeding opposite.  A young lad had seen a couple of White-fronts among them and sure enough there were 2 White-fronted Geese in there.

As I drove down past the barn at Thornham a Spotted Redshank was feeding next to a Redshank.  After spending some time from the raised car park area (seeing at least a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers and a Goldeneye) someone picked up another Spotted Redshank to the left - or was it the same one?  I headed off along the seawall back towards Holme finding 5 Twite next to the path.  Had a good view of them before they hopped over to the fields and disappeared.  From the dunes I could see another Great Northern Diver on the sea off Thornham and thousands of Wigeon.  Walking back to the car there was another Spotted Redshank - now is that 3 birds, 2 birds or 1 bird seen 3 times?  Having now analysed the photos of the first and third I'm satisfied that they at least were the same individual, so one or two at the most.

Spotted Redshank, Thornham, 15th February - the same bird methinks

Rock Pipit, Thornham, 15th February

I couldn't find much of interest around various lanes inland of here so continued on to the patch where the the first Oystercatcher had returned.  They always seem to appear inland in mid February, though unusually this one seemed to be alone - they normally arrive in pairs.

Red-legged Partridge, Choseley, 15th February

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