What more is there to say! A much brighter day with special moments spent with shorelarks at Holkham and snow buntings at Titchwell. What a great way to end our short break away! And no falling in the sea - always a bonus!
Our walk back around the coast in strong, icy winds was helped substantially by our new friend 'Steven Seagull' , who was with us all the way!
After finally warming up we popped to Cley Marshes and once more stepped out into the biting wind. From the first hide we were pleased to see our first Brent, white fronted and barnacle geese. A water pipit quickly flew by and we watched a marsh harrier being mobbed by a crow.
Greylag, White Fronted and Barnacle Geese
Then came the bit I would like to forget!
I insisted we walked down to the sea even though it was bitterly cold in the wind; our reward would be a visit to the Cley Marshes cafe for something hot to eat and drink. I took out my iPhone and crouched down to take a picture of the amazing waves, a safe distance away - or so I thought. Through the back of my camera, I saw a large wave approaching far too late. I turned and had my feet taken away from under me by the shifting shingle and was engulfed by the incoming wave. NOW I knew the true meaning of cold! It was a miserable walk back to the car, although to be honest my legs and hands were pretty numb. My loving husband asked me 'Don't hate me, but do you think we could still visit the cafe?'
No was the answer!
Although the sky was grey, and a mixture of sleet and rain fell on us on our journey, we were still excited about the prospect of getting-away-from-it-all for a few days! I must admit I did remark gloomily that this was probably the worst day for weather we had experienced so far this year, with temperatures barely above freezing (to say nothing about the wind-chill factor). Luckily, on our arrival at Titchwell Nature Reserve, the rain/sleet stopped and I was soon grinning from ear-to-ear as I was treated with views of a woodcock deep in the undergrowth by the path to the Visitor's Centre. Our next two birds of note were water rail and marsh harrier - things were looking up!
As we walked towards the sea, we were then treated to good views of several waders including , our favourite, 'Limpy the Redshank', curlew. little grebe, ringed plover and black-tailed godwits.
Limpy the Redshank
Once we were on the beach, we walked out towards the sea, buffeted by the icy wind. We could see a long line of black birds 'falling' over each other in the distance and wished that we had a scope! Everything was too far out for my camera, but we were able to identify common and velvet scoter.
Even though it was incredibly cold and grey, we were relieved that we had stayed dry and felt that the cobwebs had definitely been blown away. Before reaching Sheringham, we stopped at Holkham for one more bracing walk by the sea.
Great White Egret
Long tailed Tit
Although it was incredibly cold and the sky refused to change from a dreary grey colour to the blue we were hoping for, we set off for Rutland Water in hope of seeing a beautiful male smew.
Firstly, we headed off for the Lapwing Hide, where thanks to the presence of other birders with fabulous scopes, we were soon watching a tiny brown duck in the distance surrounded by coots-it was a female ruddy duck! Unfortunately for ruddy duck, they have been progressively 'eradicated' over the years and my trusty bird guide says there are only about 10 females left in the UK.
A Very Distant Female Ruddy Duck
Next,we strolled down to the 'Smew Hide' where we did indeed see smew - but again, which was the theme of the day, at quite some distance. It was a beautiful bird however and we were very pleased to see it at all!
A Very Distant Male Smew
New sightings for the year included pintail, goosander and some beautiful red-crested pochard — again too far for my camera lens!
Very Distant Red-crested Pochard
I think we need a proper scope!
It was lovely to watch so many little egrets and grey heron flying in front of us. We also saw teal, lapwing, stonechat, shoveler, shelduck, goldeneye, tufted duck,wigeon, great crested grebe and rather a lot of coots!
Red-crested Pochard, Teal. Pintail and Coot