North Norfolk and London Queen Mother reservoir looking for Richardson's Canada Goose and Buff-bellied Pipit
It’s an unpleasant business but once you’ve been bitten there is very little chance of recovery. Counselling might be an answer but that could be an awful waste of good twitching petrol money. So I suffered a sudden reccurrence of the old affliction when a chance arose to get 2 lifers with little expense & with the bonus of being able to sneak them on my twitching mates! I really, really had go! The birds just happened to be in Norfolk in December & herself & I were spending Christmas in Norwich with our daughter & husband who are keen walkers & not averse to a bit of birding. So what could be better than a bracing walk on Christmas morning to get up a good appetite for turkey & trimmings? You’ve got it – Salthouse, Cley etc. Well we were still on the move when we saw our first quarry at Salthouse duckpond, just in the field 20yds away - a splendid Sacred Ibis! Wow! Lovely bird; what a beak; come all the way from Africa; amazing! (Well, even the feral population of France is OK by me). This twitching’s so easy! 415 & don’t give me any of that ‘plastic’ nonsense.
So we enjoyed a healthy walk, worked up a marvellous appetite but didn’t happen across quarry no. 2. Thankfully the sun was still shining on Boxing Day & that nice weather lady said that the best was likely to be on the North Norfolk coast, so they didn’t take much persuading to enjoy more of the same. This time we scored again at Kelling – lovely walk down the lane past the quag where a very friendly local enjoyed pointing out the magnificent Richardson’s Canada Goose. Actually it looked like a runt ordinary pest-type but I was supposed to notice something about the forehead & small beak. 416 & another healthy appetite to boot!
So that was Christmas & all that disgusting over-eating was out of the way & no new binoculars from Father Christmas again. However, things had been niggling away at my few grey cells & the twitching bug had maybe bitten again! So when I saw a report of the return of the Buff-bellied Pipit to Queen Mother reservoir, I felt some stirrings! I remembered how in December, when it was first mentioned, I had shrugged my shoulders (as had my twitching mates) & said ‘Nah, so what, can’t raise any enthusiasm.’ (That’s a 3-star MEGA all the way from North America or Greenland !!!) . Well, the situation could be redeemed & this time Mac & I were off like rockets & unbelievably there were now 2!
Just down the A1 & round the M25 a bit, pay £2, park & well, hang around in the cold wind – they hadn’t been seen for 2 hours! Walk along the dam, back again, back again, (great aircraft spotting as we’re right under the descent path to Heathrow) for 2 hours, spirits subterranean by now, when there’s a sudden flurry of activity - ‘2 Pipits flown in’. Mass dash but the bones are getting older & running is definitely out of the question, missed them by 100yds. Guess they’d been crowded by the throng. However, they’d been seen to fly in the direction of a white building some mile away &, while we all idly looked in that direction, a keen type just in front of me scoured with his scope & pronounced ‘Pipits in puddles in front of white building’. We looked & even at that distance you could believe they were indeed pipits. OK! We’re off to find that building & feeling much better about the whole situation. No probs! Wow! 50yds! Gob-smacking views, photos, celebratory sarnie & we’re off home for tea with a big smile & 417 in the book. Can’t wait for the next chase! All hope of recovery has gone!