27th November 2010
Having spent the week humming and harring about trying to see the Northen Harrier, the fact that it was being seen regularly in the Thornham area was enough to make up my mind to give it a go. Titchwell takes about the same time to get to as London via public transport (seriously, both are c2.5 hours from Norwich), so it was fortunate that Gary "I laugh in the face of driving in snow. Ha ha ha. Just like that" White agreed to go and give me & Adam a lift. After an uneventful journey (Buzzard near Worstead, an exclusion zone of no snow around Sheringham the two points of interest) we arrived at Thornham Harbour and set up our 'scopes near Connor. We had to wait a little while as the harrier was sensibly sheltering from the cold wind and occasional snow flurries, and were entertained by a covey of Grey Partridges that flew overhead. Eventually the Northern Harrier flew up and gave a nice flypast, the dark upperparts particularly standing out. We tracked it around the marshes and across Holme before losing it in the distance.
After waiting a while there was no sign of the harrier returning, so we went to Titchwell for a hot drink. As the cafe had only just opened, I even managed to get a sausage roll, a real rarity. Our vigil by the bird feeders was productive, with a Brambling in the leaf litter and a Lesser Redpoll on the feeders to add to an unseasonal Chiffchaff in the woods between the carpark and seats. We decided to work our way back along the coast, next stop Wells.
Arriving at the carpark in Wells we scanned Abraham's Bosom (ooh matron) and found some Goldeneye and Little Grebes. The word on the street (woodland path) was that there was a male Northern Bullfinch doing its trumpety thing, plus a possible Siberian Chiffchaff and Northern Treecreeper. On our first walk down the left hand track we heard a number of "normal" Bullfinches, but no Northerns. We walked back down the track and finally heard it, a Bullfinch with a toy trumpet. We located the bird, which flew across the path and into the trees. Perched up it was big and bright, everything you could want in a Bullfinch. We managed to locate the Bullfinch flock, but heard no more trumpeting. A few of the females may have been Northerns too, but at distance there was no easy way of telling. We also saw some Redpoll sp. before setting off to have a look for the Chiffchaff, which we had been told was in scrub near the toilet block. There was no sign after a brief search, and deciding that it probably wasn't a good idea to keep loitering around the toilets, we moved on.
With some good birds under our belt, we hoped to continue the good work from the pub garden at the Dun Cow. For some reason we had the garden to ourselves, and soon clocked up some common stuff. Adam picked out a Snipe, a pub tick for both of us (Gary had one here previously), and soon they were everywhere, including three which flew over the pub. That was to be our only new pub bird, although I picked out a flock of Snow Buntings on the shingle ridge west of the Little Eye, and a Barn Owl made a welcome appearance. Arriving in North Walsham with 45 minutes to kill before our train we went to the Bluebell for another drink. The garden was snowbound and we saw very little, House Sparrow the dubious highlight.