May 28, 2006

Interesting experiences in Norfolk...

Bank holiday weekend + good weather, so we went to Norfolk on Sunday/Monday, staying for B&B at The Ship Inn in Brancaster (which comes highly recommended).

After checking in, we headed out in search of our target bird - Montagu's Harrier. I've seen loads of 'em abroad but never any in the UK (but I've never tried, so I don't really consider it a bogey bird), but the species is already on Darren's UK list.

Found the spot and started scanning. After about an hour, no joy, so we went off for lunch. Came back mid-afternoon and after not too long a wait, all was revealed...

The grey male harrier came in with a tasty morsel of food for his lady-friend. As he approached, she flew up to greet him and, as a mid-air collision began to look likely, she flipped over onto her back (all while flying, of course) to receive the food item. Who says girls can't catch? It was masterful.

After that, the female disappeared into a field to consume the gift, while the male floated about like they do.

The really funny thing was that, two minutes prior to this jawdropping display, a car full of birders had left the site. They drove away down the lane, and for a few seconds, the female Monty's was flying down the lane after them, and would probably have been visible in the rear-view mirror, had they bothered to look. Sweet.

In the evening, we had an appointment with some Nightjars. That was even funnier, in a bizarre way. To start with, we were in the wrong part of the site (though Darren did see and hear his first roding Woodcock). MAW must be thanked (again) for giving us directions to the right place.

As we pulled up, I was suspicious of the occupiers of a clapped-out red van which was already in the car park. The lights were on and it was pretty clear they were up to no good. Paranoia set in and we decided not to leave our car unattended while the unsavoury characters were there. So we got out and listened to the churring (another first for Darren, incidentally) for a few minutes.

After a while, one of the red van geezers got out and approached Darren cautiously.

Geezer: 'scuse me mate, I ain't being funny or nuffink, but is this where the dogging goes on?
Darren: No, we're here to listen for Nightjars.
Geezer: Oh right. Fanks.

It was pretty funny...

They left immediately and we ventured out onto the heath, where we enjoyed good views of at least two 'churring' male Nightjars. D was a bit gobsmacked as he didn't realise how close they fly to you, and you can't help but be stunned by the sound.

Video/audio here on the RSPB website, if you're unfamiliar with the delights of Nightjars.

Species added today:
172. Montagu's Harrier
173. Nightjar

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