Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Warblers are coming, but the Diver is today’s real reward

Up at 615am, and out by 0700. A SE breeze had picked up and the sea was much clearer, a look off Gore Pt produced very little, save the evidence of overhead Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail passage, also 2 Grey Wagtails. The dunes still held 1 Wheatear, but otherwise it seemed fairly quiet.

Up at the NOA, I scanned carefully through a group of 25 Goldcrest, and was rewarded with 2 Chiff-Chaff, they were never going to be difficult – but all the same it spurred me on as it was still another species to the list on an otherwise rather cold grey slow morning!
A circuit of “The Firs” produced a single Brambling, 2 Yellowhammer west and good numbers of Blackbirds. The sea was checked again from here, but nothing of note was seen. Visibility was still okay – so back to Titchwell and try the sea again.

On arrival I decided to head straight down to the beach rather than looking at the scrapes, my conviction was only distracted once, by the loud distinctive song of a Cetti’s Warbler, I knew there had been one present but hadn’t given it much thought, anyway I didn’t need to worry over it now!

On arrival at the beach – disaster!! The sea mist had rolled back in and visibility was poor. Slowly, it improved,as the mist pushed out to sea, birds slowly appeared ……… Long-Tailed Duck 30-40, Common Scoter 500, Velvet Scoter 4-5, Eider 2, sev Red-breasted Merganser, but no target sp. An hour and half passed by, the light was still improving – persevere I thought. Then a false alarm as a Diver was seen flying on the cusp of the mist, the bird landed and for a few seconds we thought we had a Black-throat, as the bird turned and the mist cleared we must have lost the diver as we realised we were actually watching a 1st winter male Eider! Then just as it seemed I was going to dip the lot, I picked up a definite diver sitting on the sea, the head turned and I could see it was held level and the clear rear flank patch confirmed - Black–throated Diver, moulting into summer plumage – yes!!! I got a couple of other birders on to it and we had distant but satisfactory views. With my spirits raised I stuck it for another 45 minutes but no Slavs or other Divers were forthcoming. I had been sat on a bench for around 3 hours and my left knee let me know it, it had gone really stiff and at 1PM I decided to head for home.

The ride home was reasonable save for the left knee which caused me quite a lot of discomfort, this was really annoying as physically I felt fine. I made it home and am now tapping this out with a frozen bag of sweetcorn wrapped around the knee!! Lets hope the physio I am seeing on Tuesday understands I am birder doing a year-list and the spring migration will shortly be in full swing!

155 species & 29 miles