27th July 2010
The start of the summer holidays had been uneventful up to this point, filled by house-hunting and local walks around Norwich. Mothing had been good, passing the 100 mark for Cath's garden (Iron Prominent and Chocolate-tip being the pick of the recent ones), but bird wise the only thing of note was a July-high of 107 Coot in the conservation area bay at Whitlingham.
I was at home filling out forms on Tuesday morning, when I brought up Birdguides and saw that a probable 1st-summer drake King Eider had been seen off Sheringham. Total time to get there (walk to the station, train, walk to the seafront) is about an hour and 45 minutes, and I had to go into the city to see a letting agent, so I consigned myself to not seeing it. By the afternoon the eider was still being seen, and rather than wait in hope that it would still be around on Wednesday, me & Cathy decided to give it a go. This seemed a bad decision as rain began to pour from the skies 10 minutes later, but thankfully by the time we reached Sheringham it had subsided to persistent drizzle.
As we headed along the promenade I was struck by the lack of birders. I know at least one of the previous birds was a long-stayer, but even for a weekday it seemed odd. I spoke to the one birder who was still there, who told me that he had been watching it for a while but then it had vanished, presumably drifting west. We walked along to the seawatching shelter, which was similarly devoid of birders, but then got a bit of luck when a guy walking past asked if we'd found it yet. He had just relocated the King Eider near the lifeboat station, and got me onto it via a long sequence of coloured flags. We then walked further west and got slightly closer views, although it was always distant. When light shone through the clouds it was possible to see paler areas and the bill colour, and the structure of the head was discernible against a pale sea. King Eider was a bird that I missed in Scotland ealier this year, so I am grateful to the finder and the birders on site for relocating the bird. I also hope that it went far enough west for a couple from Weybourne that I spoke to be able to "garden tick" it!