Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Back to the Dell of Broken Dreams

The period of easterlies appears to be drawing to a close, so I headed off to Norfolk once more to try and get a rare siberian vagrant. A quick check of birdguides, and I found myself back at the Dell of Broken Dreams.

About thirty of us scoured the area, peering under every hollybush in the vicinity of the beach huts for the Olive-Backed Pipit that had been seen earlier that morning, but only one person saw it, the extremely capable Howard who did his level best to get everyone onto it but the bird just wouldn't co-operate.

I gave up after two hours with nothing to show for it but some Goldcrests and Robins and went to Burnham Overy Staithe intending to walk out to Gun Hill and search for migrants. I met a birder coming back who'd had just four Redwings. At this point, dear reader, I had something of an epiphany. I thought "sod it. I'm not going to spend five hours in the car and several hours bashing round dunes with nothing to show for it. I'm off to Titchwell." I think something in my birding psych died there and then. It was as though I'd decided to stop cooking my own food and simply order takeaways from now on.

So I joined the queue of fellow geriatrics at Titchwell and marvelled at the exhibits. Yellow-Browed Warbler by the feeders. And there it is! flitting around a nearby bush. Jack Snipes (plural!) in the marsh by your feet. And there they were, bobbing away. Little Stint on the scrape! Two sparkly birds whizzing around being chased by Golden Plover, their juvenile plumage interspersed with new grey feathers. the bonanza continued with a Curlew Sandpiper going into dark brown/white plumage but just a hint of buff on the breast. From the beach two female Velvet Scoter with their twin face spots just visible. And on the return trip two Spoonbill in the far corner, not asleep, although there may have been more. And lots of Ruff.

Perhaps its a question of balance. If you spend all your time hunting Siberian vagrants you won't see much. It you go to well-marked out reserves you will see more but they won't be your personal achievements. Its up to the individual to find the balance that suits them best. I think I just about managed that today.

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