Friday, 5 May 2017

Black-winged Stilts and a hatful of year ticks at Potter Heigham.

In the middle of some office work I checked online to see if the eagle had been seen: it hadn't, but two Black-winged Stilts had! As quickly as I could, I threw on my birding gear and headed out to Potter Heigham, choosing the Wroxham - Stalham loop for speed.

Now I should say at this point that, to a vintage birder like me, Potter Heigham Marsh has always meant the eastward extension of Ludham Marsh, so on reaching Potter Heigham I parked in the Herbert Woods car park and walked south. After a while the absence of any other birders was a little worrying, so I retraced my steps, crossed the road and headed north.

After about a mile I bumped into Dave Holman and his wife, so I knew I was in the right place! As I was chatting, Mick Saunt arrived: Dave informed us that the Stilts were further round the shallow pool complex, so we continued walking for perhaps a further half mile. On the way round we picked out Grey Plover, Ruff and Wood Sandpiper, before Mick located the Stilts (somewhat distantly) feeding along a reed edge. Using my companion's 'scope allowed great views of this delightful pair of waders: the first I've seen in Norfolk for a long time!

Other interesting birds included three Garganey (two males!) a Little Stint, two Greenshank and a Curlew Sandpiper! Amusingly, as we were passing the wind pump on the way back to our cars, Mick's pager sounded: the message was that a Wryneck was  '...on a gate post in the cow-field by the windpump on Weaver's Way, Potter Heigham'. This was exactly where we were standing, but no birders and no Wryneck!

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