Thursday, 8 August 2013

Natterjack (and Roller!) at Horsey

Its high summer in the normal world but autumn in the birding world with migration hotting up. Unfortunately summer is the busiest time of year at work and this year it has been especially frantic hence the lack of posts in recent weeks. Weekends have become a time to take it easy on at least one day, sun bathe on the patio and recharge my batteries. I had hoped for some local waders but
the perpetual heat of July and the virtual absence of rain in these parts has dried the neighbours pools out completely so we have missed out on waders on the marshes. Our plans for our own scrape are moving forward, the final design has been sorted and contractors asked for quotes but it looks like it will be September before the diggers move in. The marshes themselves have become rather quiet bird-wise if you exclude the normal residents, Marsh Harriers and Hobby, but there has been an explosion of butterflies. The flowering Hemp Agrimony around the garden ponds have attracted a host of butterflies innumerable Peacocks and Whites, Commas, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Small Tortoiseshells and a few Red Admirals and Painted Ladies.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your view) having a reasonably big list means that whilst others have been charging up and down the country in pursuit of a plethora of mega-alerts (successfully or otherwise) I haven't been joining them. All the birds I've needed this year have either been one day birds, turned up on some distant archipelago that can't be visited by boat in a weekend or have hurled themselves in to a wind turbine.
However the Roller that turned up at Horsey on Monday is a bird not to miss however many are on your list and it was a Norfolk tick after all. Monday was too busy but a window of opportunity opened on Tuesday and I rocketed out of work at lunchtime. I was expecting holiday traffic through Great Yarmouth but the drive was easy. Yet again faced with a long walk I was time restricted and instead of the casual amble most birders took along the Nelson Head track I had to route march. The Roller was showing well but distantly, perched on fence posts and making regular feeding forays, flashing its vivid blue wings and working steadily closer. Something caught my eye and I looked down to see a small toad crossing the sandy track beside me. There was something different about this toad from all the others I've seen. It didn't walk the same way, it was sandy coloured with mottled markings but the thin yellow stripe down the middle of its back made me think this had to be a Natterjack. Never mind Norfolk, this was a life tick! A text to my husband confirmed this clinching feature. The young Natterjack walked off in to the dunes and I returned my attention back to the Roller to savour the remaining 20 minutes I had before my return to work beckoned. Unfortunately I had to leave as the Roller came closer and closer but I did have good views compared to some and the Natterjack was particularly satisfying.
Just one more week at work now before a weeks holiday and my annual visit to Birdfair!

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