Sunday, 15 April 2012


2011 Was the year of the "dip" when it came to Hoopoes. We missed no fewer than nine birds. I took a boat trip for one and missed it by a day, got locked out of a reserve while it was there (Rainham again and those ridiculous 5pm closing times) We missed one at Canvey Island by seconds etc etc. so I've been watching the one that's been at Horsey all I go for it? will it stay? or will it leave the day I go?
I've wrestled with it all week and decided to make the trip on Sunday morning. A 5am start and I'm pulling into the car park at Horsey Gap by 7am (126 miles not a bad run in the rain) A short walk up the track and we head for the caravan park where the bird has been reported all week. A couple of locals are sitting in the sand dunes when we arrive and are quick to tell us the bird hasn't yet been seen and that they are there for a Serin that's shown a couple of times this week in the Linnet flocks. We get comfortable and after 2 hours we've seen no Hoopoe and no Serin. A smart male Ring Ouzel did show well though. We get a tip that the Hoopoe has been sighted a mile or so away on the Nelson Head Track so head off with haste. A calf sapping walk along the dunes for what seemed a lot more than a mile and we hit the track only to be told that a dog walker had just flushed the bird......Can our faith in the birding gods be tested any further?....As we start to despair I catch sight of the target in typical "butterfly" flight at first I'm thinking is that it or a woodpecker but in seconds I make the shout and the six birders present are all on it as it flies away to the dunes where we catch up with it and watch it for a while feeding on the track ...WOW we've finally added Hoopoe to our British lists. 4 Ring Ouzel and several Wheatear show in the fields behind and I catch a pair of Cranes flying high over Stubbs Mill. We headed back to the car with a swagger and "The old man" buys the sausage sarnies to celebrate.

On the drive home we hear of an Osprey at Ranworth Broads and make the short detour for it. On arrival we're told to take the boardwalk to the visitor centre and the Osprey can be viewed from there. Sure enough after a ten minute walk we're looking at a distant Osprey sitting perched up on the far bank. Common terns, swallows and martins a plenty, Marsh Harriers, a sprawk and a Buzzard all keep us entertained but the Osprey remains fixed to it's perch. We give it around an hour and then hit the road for the 120 mile drive home. As we approach Thetford I decide to make a pit stop for caffeine and we plot up in the Brecks to scan for Stone Curlew whilst refuelling. I quickly find a bird and Jim gets his scope on it...another tick taking me to 202 for the year now. I feel it'll get a little harder now as I chase the other 48 I need for my target.
Spring arrivals due in the next week will add a couple though I'm sure.....what and where?..time will tell!

 Pictured are Horsey mill, Horsey Gap, The seals on the beach at Horsey gap and a tiny record shot of THE bird.

Horsey is well worth another visit and I don't think it'll be long before we're back.

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