Later on I got a more prolonged view of another interesting Redpoll in one of the roadside trees, but although views were prolonged it was very obscured and I couldn't do much with it. I was 99% sure it was Arctic but never saw its rump and didn't feel able to claim it definitely was one - however if it was then it was a different bird from the 3 I'd seen earlier based on the pattern of the undertail-coverts and flanks. I was now strongly suspecting this was my 4th Arctic Redpoll of the morning. Finally a Redpoll appeared on the ground and we got reasonable views of it on the deck. It was perhaps on the dark side by Arctic standards, but not too dark, and it had a lot going for it. Unfortunately I couldn't see either its undertail coverts or its rump at all, so I cannot claim it, but I've a strong suspicion this was a 5th Arctic Redpoll. After over 5 hours with the flock I'd now managed 5 views of birds I thought were different Arctics but I could only be certain I'd seen 2 different Arctics, and even those weren't really seen well enough to put together a proper description of them had I been the finder. All in all a bit unsatisfactory, though somehow enjoyable at the same time.
I've been hearing a nunber of reports from the coast suggesting low numbers of Little Egrets since the Beast from the East, but locally they seem to be in good supply and I've seen odd birds in some new places like the roadside pond at Broom Green. The floodwaters between Billingford and Worthing have been a good place to see them too and as I drove past on 5th April there were 6 Little Egrets - the largest count I've ever had in the Wensum Valley.
Another bird that has been reported as having experienced something of a population crash as a result of the Beast is Cetti's Warbler. They have been reported to have become much harder to find than usual along the coast and along the Yare Valley at least, but there have been several in the Wensum Valley including some in places where I at least hadn't seen them before. One of those was singing at Bylaugh on 5th April and another singing at Guist on 7th.
Also at Guist on 7th was a pair of Garganey - there were in fact 2 pairs there the night before I think, and I think someone saw all four on 7th too, but I could only see the one pair. Perhaps a better bird in local terms, or if not very close, a Black-tailed Godwit flew across the flood and began to feed right next to where the Garganey were. If you squint hard enough and use plenty of imagination you can see both in this photo.
Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull and Garganey, Guist, 7th April
A Marsh Harrier was huting here and as I arrived a little while later at Great Ryburgh another Marsh Harrier was hunting over the scrape. That meant there were few birds on the scrape (though I did arrive just in time to see 40+ Teal and 4 Snipe flying off).
Goldfinch, Ryburgh, 7th April
I just had time to pop in to the patch before heading down to Minsmere, and 2 Avocet were the highlight there. At Minsmere I joined the group and headed first to Bittern Hide where a single flight view of a Bittern was all some of us managed, though there was plenty of booming going on all morning. A couple of distant Swallows were my first hirundines of the year but Sand Martins soon appeared too (at least 35 by the visitor centre later on). A brief snippet of Sedge Warbler song was also my first this year. Scoping over to one of the pools over the back towards Island Mere I picked up a redhead Goosander. A flock of 77 Barnacle Geese in the distance contained a hybrid but at that distance I couldn't be sure if it was Snow x Baracle or Ross's x Barnacle.
We saw a couple of Mediterranean Gulls from Island Mere but of course there were far more on the main scrapes - a very quick scan/count produced 80 birds but I believe there are well into triple figures here now. A Sandwich Tern on the scrape was my first this year. There was a pair of Stonechat near the sluice and a Red-throated Diver on the sea. As we headed back along the north wall to the centre I looked back to see a Glaucous Gull flying along the beach. Finally a Blackcap was singing and showing by the dipping pool.
I decided to take the slighltly longer route out via Eastbridge and in doing so ended up driving past the Glossy Ibis feeding in the floods there. It wasn't very exciting quite honestly.
As I was driving back home through Beccles someone was photographing an American Bittern just down the road at Carlton Marshes. Unfortunately I didn't know about it until later that evening, but to be fair neither did the photographer who thought he was photographing an ordinary Bittern. The following day hopeful twitchers managed to get a couple of flight views of the American Bittern and so I headed down during the afternoon, ready to get there well before the time it had showed well the previous day. A large crowd was assembled and they'd all got a reasonable if brief flight view of it as I was walking down the track. It would only be a matter of time before it appeared again I though - at least I would get a decent flight view, and very possibly it would come out in the open where it had been photographed the night before which was more or less exactly where it had dropped in just before I arrived. Well it did show - it walked across an open area in full view allowing half the crowd good if brief views. Sadly I was in the other half of the crowd and secured absolutely no views at all. Later a Bittern sp. was seen in flight, apparently coming up from a very different place, and it divided opinion. Some were adamant that it was the American Bittern while others didn't see much contrast in the wings and were pretty sure it was an ordinary Bittern. I didn't see it at all, so couldn't help with that one. There was one final very brief and distant view of a Bittern in flight - I did see it this time but only momentarily and not clearly - I don't think anyone was claiming this one either way. It wasn't really worth the drive plus several hours wait to see a few Chinese Water Deer and a Barn Owl.
American Bittern twitchers, Carlton Marshes, 8th April
A singing Blackcap returned to my garden on 9th April, followed by Chiffchaff the next day.
On 11th I joined Dave at Bylaugh so he could show me where some Butterbur was growing, a species of flower that I'd not previously seen but more importantly the host plant of a couple of micro moths that I've not seen. As we returned to our cars I heard a call which instantly recalled White Wagtail. The difference between the calls of White and Pied Wagtails is subtle at best and often I can't detect any differences at all between the two taxa's calls, but I have detected a slight difference on occasion. It's hard for me to describe what it was about this one that made me call it as White Wagtail - perhaps a little flat? Not sure, but I was oddly confident given that I don't think I've ever found one on call before. We quickly found 2 Pied/White Wagtails at the sewage works, one Pied and the other more interesting, a candidate female White. But we hadn't resolved it when they both flew off. We spent a while longer there, seeing at least 3 Grey Wagtails and a few Pied Wagtails coming and going, but the original White candidate wasn't among them. Finally it reappeared - the same bird we were sure, and this time it stuck around for a good grilling, and was indeed a White Wagtail.
We stopped briefly at Swanton Morley where Steve had seen a couple of Wheatears earlier. No sign of them but a small fock of Redpolls dropped in briefly - 6 Lesser and 1 Mealy Redpoll. There was a Common Tern, my first of the year, at Worthing.
Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper were among the waders on the patch on 13th but a flock of 87 Golden Plovers were looking lovely in their varying extents of summer dress.
Golden Plovers, Bittering, 13th April
I took the scenic route home from Norwich on 15th and would have stopped to look over Sparham Pools even if I hadn't already heard that there were Little Gulls there. From my vantage point I could see at least 17 Little Gulls, mostly adults but including at least one second and one third calendar-year birds. I couldn't see the whole section of lake that they were using and suspected the true number was higher, and indeed Steve Chapman later counted 24 there.
Little Gulls, Sparham Pools, 15th April
Next day at Ryburgh Barn Owl and Kingfisher were the highlights.
Barn Owl, Ryburgh, 16th April
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ryburgh, 16th April
Little Egrets, Ryburgh, 16th April
Willow Warbler, Ryburgh, 16th April
Goldfinch, Ryburgh, 16th April
Other birds worth noting that day included Nuthatch at Gateley and Green Sandpiper at Bittering.