Sunday, 13 June 2010

Norfolk: Birds, etc.

Just back from Norfolk, whither Mrs N and I had been invited to attend A Wedding (of which you might or might not be reading more on Another Blog). We were staying in the notorious twitchers' paradise of Blakeney, so naturally I was off onto the bird-haunted marshes as soon as I had the oportunity. It proved a sharp reminder of how rusty my bird identification skills (never terribly strong on either warblers or waders, two Blakeney specialities) have become. To make matters worse, I had neither binoculars nor bird book with me. Now, having checked my notes against my books at home, I can conclude with a fair degree of certainty that I saw at least these species, none of which I had seen before (or in anything like recent times): Marsh Harrier (see picture) and, I think, an overflying Montagu's Harrier, Avocets and Oystercatchers. The warblers, very numerous and some of them really throwing themselves into their bravura freeform displays of loud singing, whistling and chirring, definitely included Reed and Sedge, possibly Savi's and Grasshopper, que sais-je? (Not a lot when it comes to warblers.) Much though I enjoyed and was excited by all these sights, after a while it did come to seem too easy, as if the astonishing range of species had been laid on, in the style of one of those Butterfly World places. Of course it hadn't been laid on, except by nature and careful habitat conservation - but the excitement of Blakeney was different from (more twitcherish than?) that special thrill of spotting something entirely unexpected in an unlikely and unpromising setting (like the Willow Warbler here). Talking of butterflies - although there was a more than stiff breeze off the sea yesterday, on a grassy leeward bank I saw... my first Painted Lady of the season!
As for the wedding, it was very fine indeed. All it lacked was an opportunity to line dance in a plastic cowboy hat. And the string quartet professed themselves unequal to the formidable technical challenges of Land Of A Thousand Dances. Other than that - perfect. Or, as they say in Norfolk, perfect.

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