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Brrrrrrr!


Just back from three days in north Norfolk, and very nice it was too.

Freezing, freezing cold though, with a wind blowing straight down out of the Arctic (the first land mass you hit if you go due north is Canada). Combined with all the recent rain, and some very high tides, it made for less than ideal birdwatching conditions, but as always with Norfolk, there were still plenty of highlights.

1. Watching 6,000+ Pink-footed Geese leave their roost on the Wash and fly over the RSPB reserve at Snettisham at dawn, on their way to the sugar-beet fields inland. And, against perfectly clear skies, seeing 10,000+ Pinkfeet returning to the Holkham roost.

2. Also at Snettisham, seeing the shoal-like clouds of Knot circling the reserve, before the birds landed to roost in impossibly dense order next to one of the gravel pits.

3. Seven Barn Owls in two days, including the best views I've ever had of them.

4. A wild male Crane hanging around Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, trying to entice some of the young lady Cranes from the captive breeding programme there to join him in the outside world.

5. Two great Marsh Harriers at Cley. Norfolk birders are pretty blase about them, and not surprisingly, given how familiar they are to them. But they're still rarer than Golden Eagles in the UK as a whole, and for a Midlander like me, very exciting.

6. The light - the north wind kept the clouds away, with the result that everything looked dazzlingly vivid throughout.

Accommodation was at Burnham Deepdale Backpackers Hostel, and was excellent. In fact, the word hostel doesn't do it justice - it's very comfortable indeed, but flexible enough to make it ideal for early-rising birders.

Now to defrost my feet...

Bird Watching Magazine Blog - Journalist: Matt Merritt
24/01/2007