Our first call of the day, following a very commendable early cooked breakfast in the nearby Fakenham Morrison's Supermarket, was to see a Great Grey Shrike, whose race has been the subject of much debate. Notes were retained and the bird does appear to be very distinct and worthy of scepticism as far as its geographical provenance is concerned. In weak but , nonetheless, bright sunshine we had exceptionally good views when the bird flew across and perched in a tree almost above our heads.
We then moved on northwards and had a great walk around a much favoured area, Salthouse Heath. We saw very little , but it was bracing and provided a nice sense of wilderness. On to see the reported redpolls on the north coast. The birds were repeatedly returning to a garden feeder and very good views were had of two Arctic Redpoll and a number of Lesser Redpoll. A short journey to the coastal dune ridge at Salthouse had a number of Snow Buntings feeding around the car.This day was developing into one of convenient delivery!!
We moved on to the NWT Reserve at Cley. Sadly a good friend, Patrick Dwyer ( promised you'd get a mention! ), wasn't on duty so we hastened on to what was the main quarry for the day! Eventually we saw the "object of our desires", the Western Sandpiper, a 2/3 sized Dunlin that was a bit mobile and exhibiting an obvious foot injury that has , apparently, emerged in recent times. Good views, supplemented by a nice conversation with a couple from Barnsley allowing a catch up on gossip about mutual friends! An Avocet was new and a fine overfly westwards by skeins of Pink-footed Geese ( which apparently included the Ross's Goose, which we didn't see!! ) impressed both of us. Matthew's continuing assertion about contextual birding being the most qualitative aspect of the whole activity touched base!!
A gradual journey west, via Wells Harbour , produced little until we reached the area west of Holkham where the flock of Lapland Buntings was present. Well, we saw the flock, heard odd calls, saw various features on flying birds but, sadly, we never got " on the deck" satisfying view of the entire collection of birds, We moved on and covered the Wells Woods /Holkham Gap area. A walk out on to the exposed sands area provided good views of four Shorelark. Our return then coincided with several good views of the two Rough-legged Buzzards in the area, including one overhead. A search for a reported Firecrest was wholly without success (") but a Chiffchaff was a small compensation! Good views of Grey Partridge and an overflying and perched Peregrine were valued adjuncts at the end of the day to what had been a very satisfying series of good species seen in reasonable weather! A Barn Owl near Fakenham provided the final positive comment on the day!