29th October 2011
After a brief spell moving some furniture around, Gary, Adam & I set off for everyone's favourite stretch of "under-watched" coastline, Trimingham. Before walking to the woods Gary noticed a Buzzard sp. flying west that appeared to have a white rump. We managed to find a gap in the treeline and confirm that the bird was as suspected, a Rough-legged Buzzard. The bird then stalled in the air and swooped down out of sight. We intended to try to re-find it, but news of a Red-rumped Swallow flying north from Sea Palling with two Swallows had us instead choosing to go to the clifftop.
The sea was initially not too productive, but as time passed several groups of Little Gulls passed leisurely by, as did several Kittiwakes and a couple of Wigeon. A number of Red-throated Divers were on the sea, and a lone Snow Bunting flew east along the cliffs. At around 12:30 the moment we were waiting for arrived, when three Swallows flew up from the cliffs. In a blur we panned from bird to bird as they split up across the fields. Surely one had to be the Red-rumped? The closest two were definite Swallows, the third had come and gone none of us had seen a pale rump on it. We were faced with the truth that despite it being the end of October it was just a coincidence that there were two groups of Swallows along the coast.
Feeling hungry we moved on to the Poacher's Pocket at Walcott, where we could get a bit more seawatching in. After the initial curious questions from patrons and passers by had been answered we started scanning the sea. Most of the birds seen were similar to Trimingham, but here they were mostly pub ticks for me. Several Guillemots were loafing offshore, and a Common Scoter and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were good birds, as was a flyover Redpoll. I missed a Great Northern Diver, but the best bird of the day was a Black Guillemot. A rare bird in Norfolk, it flew in and landed on the sea, allowing reasonable views before drifting west. Whilst eating we had been haunted by the calls of Pink-footed Geese, so we decided to have a look for them on the way back.
Following the calls we soon located a large flock of Pink-footed Geese in a couple of fields just inland of the coast road. We failed to find any scarcer species in with them, but Gary found a neck-collared bird (Pale blue CCI). The WWT got back to me very quickly about this bird, which was tagged in Aberdeenshire in April 2002, and has been sighted in Norfolk most winters since then. This year it had already been reported from the Horsey area the previous week, so the birds weren't 'new in' as we had suspected. On the way back to North Walsham we stopped off at Ebridge Mill where we saw a Grey Wagtail, and we had a Sparrowhawk near the library.
Neck-collared Pink-footed Goose