Day 6 - Choseley Barns, Holme Dunes & Home Marshes:
Today we went to Holme Dunes NNR, but on the way we stopped in at Choseley Barns, as it was less windy today, to see if we could tick off Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer, and to try and find the Little Owl again that we saw on Saturday. So we travelled up the farm track to find a group of 5 bird watchers walking around the area, we all saw the Little Owl as it flew fast away from us, which was an excellent start to the day! We also had a few Yellowhammers in with a flock of Chaffinches, which was a good year tick.
On arrival at the car park at Holme, a Cetti's Warbler was calling from a bush, but of course we didn't see it! We had nice views of a male Marsh Harrier, various wildfowl (including lots of Wigeon and a few Gadwall which were new for the trip), some nice Brent Geese and Black-tailed Godwits from the 3 hides. We also had a very fast fly-by Kingfisher, which didn't call to help us spot it earlier.
After visiting the 3 hides by the visitors centre, we had lunch and then walked through the pines to the beach, on which there were Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Blackwits and Curlews, as well as a single Sanderling, Turnstone and Grey Plover. I then spotted a flock of Common Scoter way out to sea, of which we had good views as they all lifted out of the water and flew around for a bit - it was amazing how many ducks there were hidden between the rolling waves! I tried desperately hard to find a bird showing white on the wing (or on the nape for that matter!), but even when all few hundred of the birds were in the air I couldn't make out a Velvet or Surf Scoter among them.
Today I wanted to see a Barn Owl, and Holme Marshes is supposed to be the best site in Norfolk for this lovely bird, so I thought we had a good chance, considering that it wasn't raining or too windy. So we set up camp in the first hide at Holme Marshes, to the left of which you can see a Barn Owl box, and we waited for around an hour and a half as dusk drew in. We had Fieldfare and Redwing, some nice Wrens and a Goldcrest, and on the way from the dunes to the marshes I saw a Weasel cross the road in front of us. There was also another Cetti's Warbler calling quite close to the hide, and a female Sparrowhawk landed right next to us for a second before flying off. The best bird of the evening was definitely a Water Rail though, which we heard squealing at first, then I caught a glimpse of it swimming quite close to us, before it disappeared into the reeds. A few minutes later we saw it again, just darting from one side of the water to the other. Then we had a nice view as it swam alongside the reeds for a few seconds, before disappearing again as they usually do!
Overall, the longest day list today, of 54, but no lifers, and no Barn Owl! But the Water Rail was a very nice year tick to get!
No great photos today, but I did get a chance to do some field sketches, which I haven't done for a while. They're not great, but it's good to practice!
I'm Sorrel, a young birder and wildlife artist based in the East Midlands - this is my blog all about my birding and wildlife adventures.