Saturday 26th October 2013.
A days birding with Brendan, Paul and Ephraim. Our initial plan to go Christchurch for a Pallid Swift was scuppered when it was taken by a Sparrowhawk on Friday afternoon. After a team "conference call" it was decided we would head for Norfolk (how predictable!). Our targets Pallid Swift at Cromer and wait and see if the Radde's Warbler is reported at Happisburgh. We arrived at Cromer about 09:00 and made our way along the cliff top towards the pier. We hung around here for a while but no Swift. We then made our way to the Church but again no luck here either. We stayed for a while longer but then news of a Richard's Pipit at Cley prompted a team meeting and the outcome was that we headed to the Beach Car Park at Cley. On arrival lots of birders were searching for the Pipit and we joined in for a while. No luck with the Pipit so we had a seawatch hoping the Pipit would re-appear or news of something else would break. A pleasant enough seawatch produced; Gannet, Red-throated Diver, Razorbill and Common Scoter. It started raining so we decided to have "sandwich break". Whilst enjoying our Tesco's "Meal Deals" news came on Brendan's pager of a Pallid Swift at Trimingham. So off we went back in the same direction we had just come from. On arrival at the layby in Trimingham opposite Woodlands Holiday Park, some birders were hastily getting in their cars and speeding off. We managed to ask one birder where they were off to? Our quarry the Pallid Swift was being watched at a garden centre nearby. First left then first right were the directions. Off we sped to the garden centre at Hungry Hill, Northrepps. I parked up and we made our way to the rear of the garden centre where we immediately connected with the Pallid Swift as it flew low over the field directly and towards us. Although we watched the Swift for quite a while, apart from our first views it was always fairly distant. We did speak to a photographer who had been there for some time and had some good close up shots of the Swift he was 100% certain our bird was a Pallid Swift. Our initial views only revealed paler plumage than a Common Swift with a noticeable pale throat. The Swift had by now flown out of site so we headed to the cliff top path between Mundesley and Bacton Gas Works,. Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting had previously been seen here. On route, near the Church in Trimingham, Ephraim stated shouting excitedly, "Swift, Swift, Swift" I thought he wanted me to drive faster but as I had already been flashed by a speed camera on the outskirts of Norwich I ignored him. He followed his first comments up with, "over the car, over the car". I caught out of the corner of my eye a Swift sp and immediately pulled over. Brendan leapt out of the car as it was still moving and we all soon joined him to view what we believe to be the Pallid Swift we had been watching just a few minute's ago. The owner of the house we were outside "the Brambles" came out to see what we were looking at. When we told him he ran back in to get his son and his bins and joined us watching the Pallid Swift. He even lent Brendan his phone to contact RBA with the news. What a nice man! We watched the Swift disappear in the direction of the Church, said our goodbye's to the owner of "the Brambles" and continued on to Bacton Gas Works. We headed back along the cliff top path at the rear of the gas works and towards Mundesley Holiday Village. At the rear of the gas works a White sp, Peacock and Clouded Yellow butterflies. We finally reached the field where we were hoping to see Lapland and Snow Bunting. Ephraim went off for a stroll, Paul and Brendan began scanning the field and I walked off to have a look at the next field. I was about 50 yards from Paul and Brendan when I noticed a Lapland bunting in the rough grass on the edge of the path. When I turned round to alert Paul and Brendan I noticed a Snow Bunting on the path that ran away to my right (the path that is not the Snow Bunting!). Paul and Brendan quickly joined me and also Ephraim soon after. By this time the Lapland Bunting had flown a few yards into a Turnip/root vegetable sp field. Paul located it almost immediately as it fed in amongst the plants. It was no more than two or three yards away at times. The Snow Bunting was equally obliging also offering "crippling" views. Whilst we were here 2 officers from the local constabulary joined us as they thought we were doing some surveillance on the gas works for an impending terrorist attack. How ridiculous, out of the 4 of us only Ephraim looks capable of mass destruction! After a while the Lapland Bunting moved deeper into the field so we decided to leave it in peace and head back to the car. From Bacton we headed back towards Trimingham and not sure how or why but we ended up back at the layby where we had been informed of the Pallid Swift at the nearby garden centre. Anyway we were glad we did as the Pallid Swift was showing exceptionally well from the layby opposite Woodland Holiday Park. We spent some time viewing this Swift and there was no doubting it was indeed a Pallid!
Our final stop of the day was one of our old favourites, the "Raptor Roost" at Stubb Mill. A really nice end to the day with not only lots of Marsh Harriers including several males but also, Merlin, Ringtail Hen Harrier, Great-white Egret, 20 Common Crane. A nice end to a long day, out of the door at 05:30 and back home at 21:30. I'm just going to check to see if this is my 500th post, if not it's definitely one of my longest! [nope "South of the Café" was my 500th but i'm still having choccie biscuits to celebrate!] Paul's pics below; Snow Bunting, Bacton. Lapland Bunting, Bacton. Pallid Swift, Trimingham.