Divers, Egrets, Geese, a rare Wheatear & much more along the Norfolk coast......
A better day (21st), weather-wise (for a Thursday!) saw a pale Common Buzzard perched on a tree surround at Felbrigg, followed by a Muntjac in the woods at Weybourne.
Parking at Walsey Hills, we began walking along Cley’s east bank with the intention of looking for the Isabelline Wheatear still present at the base of the dunes east of Arnold’s Marsh and indeed the flock of Snow Buntings reported there.
Several Gadwall were on one of the pools and Wigeon on the flooded fields and on the return journey 4 Little Grebes were seen. At the end of the bank a single Snow Bunting was feeding at the base of some seeding plants on the shingle, but its feeding regime was interrupted by a dog off the lead followed by a group of individuals who had no idea about the status of the area, let alone the Countryside Code; they do now!!
A flock of at least 35 Snow Buntings were feeding amongst the seeding plants on the bottom slopes of the dunes, before reaching the area where the Isabelline Wheatear was frequenting.
Unfortunately, a well-known if not infamous twitcher (from the ‘birding world’!), come photographer was dealing out mealworms. Having seen the gagging, which follows after dried mealworms have been fed to migrant birds (always rare or semi-rare species), on several occasions, I questioned the individuals necessity to throw mealworms down, after he had come over to the other few people present to suggest that if we stayed near a certain area, where he had put the mealworms, the wheatear would come there and be readily photographed at relatively close range, which is not what he said later to justify feeding the bird (apparently with ‘live’ mealworms) making out by doing this he had saved its life when it first arrived! Why was he continuing to feed the bird now then or was he trying to replicate an ‘I am a Celebrity, get me out of here’ eating trial for birds?!
Many migrants arrive in the UK tired if not exhausted by their journey and rest up before finding food, which in relatively mild conditions food would have been readily available and it was clear the wheatear was finding its own food. Left alone, instead of being harassed by would be ‘wildlife photographers’ (in other instances left hanging in a mist net before being ‘processed’ by ringers, e.g. recently arrived Goldcrests after a very long journey and where time is crucial with respect to mass to surface ratio) it is very likely that the wheatear (in this instance) would have found food on its own volition.
However, it is very clear that the only reason ‘food’ is put out for these migrants is that they are rare and above all, for the benefit of the photographic paparazzi who have no fieldcraft and very little, if any knowledge of ecology. This is another instance, where the individuals who appear to care about our environment are actually a destructive force.
After taking photographs of a very obliging bird (without the help of subsidised food!), we set off back to the car, after some pleasant exchanges with wildlife, which is more than can be said for many of the Homo sapiens present!