A 3 Egret day in Norfolk......
November began (2nd) with a trip up the North Norfolk coast with Jason Nichols, with 4 Common Buzzards seen en-route before North Walsham, three of which were down on arable land.
At Salthouse, we were made aware that a Sabine’s Gull was flying west from Cromer, but despite looking for it from the shingle ridge there were no sign and not much else flying past either!
Approximately 10 Snow Buntings flew over, as did approx’50 Linnets and 150+ Pink-footed Geese were seen in a skein also, with a pair of Stonechat and a few Meadow Pipits near Gramborough Hill.
At Walsey Hills, the Black Brant was found on the field opposite the pull-in with 200+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese. 5 Little Grebes were on the pond and a Little Egret flew over the road.
After continuing along the coast for a few miles, the news that a Sabine’s Gull (probably the one reported earlier, whilst at Salthouse) was apparently lingering east of Cromer Pier.
A drive back along the coast to Cromer ensued and from an elevated position in Cromer a look for the gull failed to locate the gull. However, an immature Caspian Gull was on the shore.
Heading back westwards along the coast the/a Cattle Egret was spotted in amongst the cattle, whilst driving past the flooded fields at Stiffkey.
Approaching Holkham a Red Kite was seen over the adjacent fields and at least 200 Pink-footed Geese were seen from Lady Ann’s Drive.
A look out onto the surrounding area from Burnham Overy Staithe, found two Little Egrets and a Grey Plover along the channel. A Marsh Harrier flying over the saltmarsh was enough to spook a Spoonbill into flight and back out on the road, a Mistle Thrush was perched on the telegraph wires.
Our usual stop at Brancaster Staithe found a selection of waders, which included Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, 22 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin and 20+ Turnstone. Two Little Egrets were seen along with a Great Crested Grebe in the channel, but in the very grey conditions (present since the start of the trip) and birds distant, none of the usual photography was undertaken here, apart from a shot of a heavily laden boat with its cargo of mussels.
Heading back (eastwards) along the coast road, it suddenly became apparent that we could complete a ‘hat-trick’ of egrets for the day, if we could find a Great.
With this in mind a stop at Holkham, at the ‘gate’ overlooking the freshmarsh was made and within a very brief duration of time a Great White Egret was found hunting along one of the dykes.
Back at Stiffkey, a walk along the path and down besides the flooded fields saw a Brown Hare in the distance and found the Cattle Egret with the cattle, but there were in fact two cattle egrets, which was a nice surprise, but the surprise was lessened when two had in fact been reported earlier, unbeknown to us! Still, egrets are always good to see and with 7 Little Egrets out on the pools, formed in the meadow, it was very much a day of three egrets, something, which not too long ago would have been very unlikely to happen in a single day in Norfolk and probably anywhere else in the UK.
Caspian Gull You need mussels for this!
Black Brant with Dark-bellied Brents
Stonechats Kestrel along Beach Road, Cley