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Arrival in Norfolk

The BBC was full of doom and gloom, M6 motorway blocked by snow, drivers trapped in their cars, only travel if your journey is absolutely essential!

Well, a birding trip is essential as far as we are concerned! So we set off in the pre-dawn dark somewhat nervous of whether we would reach Norfolk.

As we reached the M6 motorway there was indeed snow in the outside lane, but lanes one and two were clear. What's more it seemed that most people weren't heading out on birding trips as there was very little traffic, ideal for us.

We picked up Brian and Helen in Warrington, where there was snow but nothing to stop us. The rest of the journey was trouble free and in sunshine and blue sky, so good job we did not listen to the BBC, what worry warts!

We enjoyed wonderful views of Red Kites on the journey, always a delight to see, even if they were not the real Welsh thing.

Reaching the Norfolk coast at Hunstanton we were soon watching Fulmars skimming along the cliff tops at eye-level, stunning in the sun.

At RSPB Titchwell we met up with Barry, Wendy, Paul and Shirley and were watching a gorgeous Barn Owl sitting on a fence post in the sun, wow! Behind the owl a flock of Barnacle Geese were grazing in a field free of snow, what a start.

A gang of Brambling showed off in the willows near the visitor centre, and amazingly a Merlin dashed into the flock, but left empty taloned, then it was back on another attack, but again missed, high adrenalin stuff, and not just for the Bramblings!

Over the reedbeds our first two Marsh Harriers floated over looking for a meal, we saw five of these raptors in total. A flock of Common Snipe burst from cover and circled the marsh.

The first lagoon was frozen but a good number of birds were stood on the ice, looking pretty cold, these included some stricking drake Pintail and four Avocets.

Dark bellied Brent Geese were flying over the saltmarsh to the west of the bank, a Stock Dove was on an old world war two bunker, where we left in October!

The next lagoon was mostly ice free and busy with birds. Both Golden and Grey Plovers fed side by side, gangs of Teal were busy feeding non-stop, a Spotted Redshank strode through the shallows right below the path.

Out on the beach we scanned the masses of waders and gulls, Barry picked out a handsome Mediterranean Gull amongst masses of Common Gulls. Flocks of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits swirled over the rising tide, lovely.

As we walked back to visitor centre a ring tail Hen Harrier showed off over the reeds west of the path and had two views of a flashing Kingfisher, another wow moment.

Barry and Wendy had arrived before the rest of us and had enjoyed Waxwing and Lapland Bunting! Our combined list for the day, much of which had been driving, reached a very pleasing 95 species.

A lovely pub meal was very welcome and a fitting end to great first day of our Norfolk House Party. Roll on the rest of the week!


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