14 October 2007

A LONG day!

Yesterday, what a day! We set off from Derby at 7:30AM with things not looking too good - the weather was warm but it was very overcast and there was the odd spot of rain in the air, the coach we were on was also making a rather strange noise from the transmission at times but my MP3 player soon took care of that. It’s surprising what noises you can mask with The Reasoning playing!

The journey to Norfolk was the usual boring trip, slow traffic on narrow winding roads, tractors, lorries and even the odd car and caravan throw in for good measure. Just to make us feel better it even rained a little harder at times, and it was misty. It was really starting to look like a good day for birding - and the coach still did not sound too happy either!

Once we arrived at Holkam things started to look a little promising, the cloud was lifting, the rain had long since stopped and it was still feeling a lot warmer than it should for mid-October. Spirits were raised further by the sight of 100’s of Pink-footed Geese flying in onto the salt marsh to join the 1000’s that were already there. Whilst scanning through the geese I came across a Sacred Ibis - quite what it was doing there I do not know, but I can be pretty certain that it has escaped from somewhere! (Having checked on Birdguides the ibis has been in the area since at least early September.)

One of the pools at Holkham.

Just some of the 1000's of Pink-footed Geese.

Other birds of note around Holkam marsh included Short-eared Owl, Little Egret, Stonechat, a single Fieldfare, around half a dozen Redwing, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Curlew, Goldcrest and just to keep Lynda happy there were quite a few Wigeon!

The un-seasonally warm weather also saw numerous dragonflies on the wing and five species of butterfly - Large White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood.

Comma butterfly.

After spending 2½ hours in the Holkham area, we returned to the coach for a short transfer to Wells. Here the birds were rather harder to come by. The tide was at its lowest which meant that the sea was a long way out and that many of the waders were just too far away to go in search of. The mud in the harbour entrance did still hold some birds though and we managed to add Redshank, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Brent Goose to the day list before deciding to take a walk through the woods in search of smaller birds.

Wells estuary at low tide.

A fallen tree in Wells wood.

In a little under two hours we managed to add just three more species to our list - Wren, Coal Tit and Long -tailed Tit - not the most productive birding but the walk was nice and the coastal views were pleasant enough. Once back at the estuary the birding was a little better and we picked up Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Peregrine before having to board the coach for the journey home. With hindsight, it may have been better to not even bother getting on board!

Pink-footed geese don't need a coach to move around!

With only around an hour of the 3½ hour journey home completed the familiar noise from the transmission on the coach suddenly got a lot worse - I could even hear it over my MP3! Another 100 yards or so down the road and the driver pulled the coach into a farm drive; things did not look or sound too good. Now, I could go on here for almost as long as the rest of last night, but I won’t!

During the final 5 hours of our day, we had to wait an hour and a half for a replacement coach, change to a third coach that had been dispatched to meet the local Norfolk one that rescued us and then came across a road closure in Grantham that saw us diverted north up the A1 to Newark.

Once around Newark we hit another road closure - on the diversion route - that meant we couldn’t get from Newark towards Nottingham! This meant we then had to go back around Newark and head even further north to Mansfield, before finally reaching the A38 and heading back SOUTH to Derby!

We should have been back in Derby by around 8:00PM, in time to watch the England v France rugby match on TV. We finally arrived home at just before 11:00PM!

Today, I feel much better… a good night’s sleep and a bucket full of whisky has put the final part of yesterday to the back of my mind.

Now, I am off racing with Gary and I really would not want to be in his shoes if he messes up today! I will kill him!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh don't kill poor Gary. It wasn't his idea to take the scenic route back into Derby yesterday :-)

    At least the day wasn't a complete waste of time and you had some good sitings.

    I don't know wich of you took the pictures but both of you have an eye for pics. Love the boat.

    Who won? England or France?