Snettisham, Kelling & Holt (27th and 28th July)
Had to wait until lunchtime on Tuesday 27th July before heading to Snettisham for the reported Western Sandpiper and arrived there 3-4hrs before high tide. The weather wasn't good with a slight breeze and occasional heavy rain spoiling the experience.
Thirty four other species of birds were seen whilst searching for the target bird. At least four Turtle Doves were seen feeding on the shingle and calling from nearby trees (always nice to see & hear) and a Marsh Harrier was hunting nearby fields. Waders included White-rumped Sandpiper (1), Curlew Sandpiper (1), Common Sandpiper (1), Curlew (10+), Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank (1), Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Avocet and Knot. Other birds on the mud flats and shingle included Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Kittiwake (1), Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Shelduck, Mallard, Swallow (2), Little Egret (2) and Cormorant.
As the tide came in the waders were being pushed towards us, the light was very poor and the search for the target bird had become very challenging. Luckily there was a dozen or so people looking along side me (which included 2-3 RSPB wardens & regulars). At 8:48pm a lady next to me found the Western Sandpiper and after a few frantic minutes had managed to put the rest of us on the very distant bird. Slightly smaller than a dunlin, a very distinctive 'Sanderling' type behavior and it's long legs made it look as though it was about to fall forward at any time. No photographs, but excellent to see. After this I returned to the car and made the decision to have another go at seeing the bird in the morning. A Barn Owl was seen in the car park before getting my head down for the night, which was a good way to end the day.
Conditions the following morning (28th July) was a bit kinder and made my way to the beach before 6am, which was an hour before the tide started to push the waders in. It was good to see the lady who found the 'western' the previous night and have a chat to her, but it was even better to return the favour when I found the Western Sandpiper at 8:03am (so good when things like this happen : ). I immediately put the news out and was shocked to find myself surrounded by 15-20 birders and was forced to change position after putting 2-3 of them on the birds. I understand the frustration, but Covid is still out there and want to stay safe (at least I was outside). This time the bird was closer, but still too distant for decent photographs. Additional birds seen were Lesser Whitethroat (1), Whitethroat (1), Meadow Pipit (2), Skylark (4), Lapwing (6+), Linnet (4), Egyption Goose (10+), Barnacle Goose (4), Canada Goose (10+), Greylag Goose (30+), Swift (4). Good numbers of Gatekeeper butterflies were seen on the way back to the car.
As soon as I got back to the car it once again started to rain heavily so I made the decision to visit Cley Spy in Glandford. If in the area I thoroughly recommend a visit to this shop as they appeared to be very knowledgable and offered excellent service. Will definitely be visiting there again.
After visiting Cley Spy the sun came out so decided to do a bit of butterfly watching. At least four male and three female Silver-studded Blues were seen at Kelling Heath with several unidentified Fritillaries. At least five Silver-washed Fritillaries and three White Admirals were at Holt. Just before the rain started during my 30 minutes at Holt I managed to get a brief view and photograph of my first valesina type Silver-washed Fritillary. A nice way to end my second day and trip to Norfolk.