Tag Archives: Little Egret

Just when I thought spring had passed me by….

25 Apr

25/4/18 As I was getting ready to go out this morning there was a report of Red-rumped Swallow at Hornsea Mere. I had missed a few there in the past but having not renewed my permit for the hides this year I decided to give it a miss and go to Tophill Low NR as planned. Started in the centre hide where, after seeing a few at High Eske NR on Monday, I wasn’t surprised to have a few Swift high over the north end of D reservoir. With nothing of note on the water I headed south with hope of waders, but at South Marsh East I didn’t even have the pair of Little Ringed Plover or Redshanks I had seen last week. Did get my first Common Tern though.

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Common Tern in South Marsh East Black-headed Gull colony-Tophill Low NR

However from back-to-back hide had a Red Kite disappearing low north towards the lagoons. By South Marsh West added Sedge Warbler to my site year list. Also a few Reed and Cetti’s Warblers singing. In South Scrub added Lesser Whitethroat but Watton NR was also devoid of waders. Did have a pair of prospecting Common Tern and five Little Egret. Heading back north heard a probable Whitethroat song but a sudden shower made me move on. Thought of sheltering in the centre hide, with the possibly of the rain forcing something down, but the weather improved before I got there so continued north up the road hoping for a Wheatear on the reservoir wall but only had a few Yellow and Pied Wagtails [had a Common Sandpiper earlier from the centre.] Did hear a good Whitethroat in the bushes by Barmston Drain though. Getting to the top of D reservoir planned to listen for the recent Grasshopper Warbler in North Scrub but decided to have a quick look at Hempholme Meadows. MS was already in the hide and told me a Bittern was in the vegetation under the fence by the road. It had been seen and photographed much closer and in the open but I initially couldn’t see it. When I did spot its head my first thought was ‘this isn’t a European Bittern’ and I tried to remember whether the long staying Suffolk American Bittern had been seen today. However when it got more into the open it had a long snake-like neck and although brown wasn’t streaked on the body-an obvious Purple Heron. Rang RH’s mobile but only got his voice mail. Tried to get a few pictures but it too distant and the light poor.

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My best shot of Purple Heron on Hempholme Meadow.

With no reply from RH I went ahead and texted RBA but didn’t give the exact location to stop twitchers trying to view via Hempholme Lock. Pity the only other heron was a Grey as a Great White Egret and a few Little Egret have been almost guaranteed recently. Four species together would have been a spectacle!

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Great White and Little Egret on Hempholme Meadow-18/4/18

Was running short of time now as I had to get home to eat then take the dog out, as well as making sure ‘on site instructions’ did exist before the first birder arrived. Grasshopper Warbler would have to wait another day. Back at the centre spoke to MC, who I hadn’t seen for 12+ years. He had just spoken to the photographer who had pictures of a “bittern” so back tracked and managed to get a ‘back of camera’ picture from him, much better than my efforts.

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“Back of camera shot” of Purple Heron on Hempholme Meadow

I first saw Purple Heron at Tophill Low NR in 1994, when the L-shaped hide first put to test, although there had been a few earlier records. A brilliant picture of it by Tony Collinson My last was in 2011, this time on Watton NR.

Purple Heron Watton NR 220511 HVWG

Purple Heron at Tophill Low NR-22/5/11

Seen well into the evening and appears to have shown better than I saw it. Maybe try for better shot tomorrow if the hide isn’t to packed, although I can always flash my Vol.warden badge if necessary!

Checking the Hornsea Mere blog looks like I have struggled with Red-rumped Swallow anyway.

26/4/18 The Purple Heron was still present early then reportedly flew east after being disturbed by a birder on the road. However it was back mid afternoon although distant but then flew south early evening.

27/4/18 Reported flying towards Hempholme Meadow late morning but no further sign by early evening. Please note, unless announced otherwise, only birders with an annual permit can be on site after 6pm or before 9pm. Also only view from hides and do not walk along the road or riverbank beside Hempholme Meadow.

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2017 in 12 pictures

2 Jan

Intro

The beginning of the year was interesting, reflexed in the number of posts, but in contrast to 2016 there was a very poor return wader passage followed by a predominance of westerly winds leading to little interest on the Yorkshire coast then winter has, so far, been very poor for rarer wildfowl. Thus the blog has been quiet the second half of the year. I have not posted in Cottingham Moths this year. I started but due to technical problems lost the first post and never bothered starting again. It was a poor year anyway but a few highlights will feature below. I hope to start again next year, maybe with a different approach.

January

Although not a great picture this shot of the male Hooded Merganser at Barr Loch, Renfrewshire on the 21st was a desperate tick for me. Only seen two previous but the first in Nottinghamshire [can’t remember the date!] was an obvious escape on first site, the second at Scaling Dam, Cleveland felt more reliable initially but was quickly deemed an escape also. Always a tricky one to judge but this one had been around a few weeks and hadn’t given any reason to be damned. Also having arrived in late 2016 I only had to wait 9 months for the BBRC to deem it kosher.

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Drake Hooded Merganser-Barr Loch,Renfrewshire-21/1/17

February

In a fairly quiet month February I go for a mammal in a Short-tailed Field Vole at Raywell. See here for the full account.

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Short-tailed Field Vole-Wauldby Scrogs, Raywell

March

Two close contenders for this month but as one appears in the”top ten viewed posts” for the year I will go for the male Pine Bunting at Dunnington near York. One of my bogey birds having had untickable views of one in South Yorkshire and missed another at Filey after it was flushed by a dog then for the fields to be shut, like much of the country, because of Foot and Mouth. Originally saw the bird in January, a few days after it had been found, on the way back from the Hooded Merganser. Wasn’t too happy with the views, in fact wondered whether I should have counted my first unticked bird, but a return visit 7th March provide much better views when it showed regularly in a hedge with finches and buntings in good weather and to a smaller less excited crowd with no-one flushing the bird in an attempt to get the best shot.

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Male Pine Bunting-Dunnington, N.Yorks.

April

April was poor for birds so Shoulder Stripe moth caught on the 9th, a first for me, is this month’s picture

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Shoulder Stripe moth

May

Early 2017 was very good for white-winged gulls so with little else of note this month I go for the Iceland Gull that give great views at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point for a few weeks in May and June.

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Juvenile Iceland Gull-Hornsea Mere

June

Best bird this month was Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs RSPB. Missed one in October 2016, setting off too late for the Eastern Crowned Warbler, which was followed by several fly throughs but none lingering in 2016 before one on 28th June decided to hang on long enough for RL and I to make a less than hectic trip and despite it departing as we reached the cliff top gave us tickable but not photographical views. Also earlier in the months on the 11th saw Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour which was beyond useful photographic range. Had seen one in Ireland at Lady’s Island Lake,Co.Wexford in July 1999 so a UK tick but as this one was previously ringed France also a known Elegant Tern. Had two new moths durning the month so the more photogenic, Scorched Wing is this month’s picture.

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Scorched Wing moth

July

Probably the best month of 2017. My choice is the Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands on 21st. A site tick and my first since the Brough Haven bird almost 17 years to the day. Full account here.

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Pacific Golden Plover-North Cave Wetlands

August

This month’s picture is another moth [making up for not posting in Cottingham Moths this year!] This Magpie Moth was found in hedgerow north of Millbeck Wildlife area in Cottingham on 11th. A first for me and the Marsh Harrier that flew over at the same time was my first for the village.

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Magpie Moth-Cottingham

September

This month it’s the Ryhope Scops Owl. The Lewis American Redstart was the other candidate but the fact the owl was totally self twitched pushes it to the front. Full account here.

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Scops Owl-Ryhope, Co.Durham

October

Although a let down compared with last year October still offered a few choices. If I’d got a picture of the Richardson’s Cackling Goose at Budle Bay, Northumberland, that would have been the obvious choice, but without the Great White Egret at High Eske NR is the the next best, being surprisingly my first for the site and only the second certain record despite the number of records just north at Tophill Low NR. First seen on the 3rd, the photograph was taken on the 7th. Found another at North Cave Wetlands on the 4th where the possibility of it being the same bird continuing south did cross my mind but but subsequent multiple sighting the area proved this unlikely. Only added the species to the latter site list on 24th September.

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Great White Egret-R.Hull N.of High Eske NR.

November

This month it’s a Little Egret, not a rare bird but still an unusual bird to see in your local park. Taken on the 7th it was often seen along a drain by Millhouse Woods Lane Water Works in Cottingham until the freeze in early December [including some non birder fellow dog walkers]. Possibly a different bird was seen on the other side of the village in fields south of Haltemprice Farm in December.

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Little Egret-Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham

December

Little choice with the last one as the pair of Stonechat present in Willerby at Haltemprice Farm {Abbey} ruin since October were the only nature photographs I took this month. The species winter here most years. More here.

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Stonechat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Top 10 posts of 2017 [viewing figures]

1. Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

2. Scops Owl in Co.Durham

3. Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

4. Stejnegers Stonechat at Spurn Point From 2016 likely boosted by the Stonechat’s upgrade to full species from 2018

5. Scarborough A day of winter birding with plenty to see.

6. Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR Another from 2016 reflecting the interest in the site. No Pec Sand in 2017!

7. Eastern Black Redstart in Skinningrove From the end of December 2017 so most of the interest was in early 2017.

8. Geese at Hornsea Mere

9. Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

10. Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur A dog-walk/twitch to Hull.

Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

2 Aug

2/8/17 I haven’t been to Tophill Low NR for a few weeks but with rain forecast it seemed a good place to be. Despite the title the big white heron wasn’t too important as I had seen one there in May, which despite their increasing occurrence was my first for almost three years and even longer at this site. More interesting was the report of Spotted Flycatcher at Hempholme Meadows yesterday. They had bred in O Wood but I hadn’t managed to see them there. However no sign up there but did see a Ruddy Darter on the way up and photographed some Little Gulls on the straight wall walking back [had counted at least 12 earlier from the visitor centre].

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Ruddy Darter at Tophill Low NR near “top hide”.

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Little Gulls at Tophill Low NR on D res wall.

Also no Kingfishers but had one walking past South Lagoon.

 

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Red Admiral at Tophill Low NR wildlife garden.

Headed to South Marsh East where the big egret had been earlier, as well as a variety of waders. No sign of the Great but several of it’s Little cousins.

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Little Egret at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

Also a couple of Black-tailed Godwit and few Green Sandpiper but no sign of the Wood Sandpiper. The Lapwing regularly got up, as is their habit, taking other waders and some Little Gulls with them.

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Green Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East.

Headed for the back-2-back hide in the hope that the missing two would be seen from there but got diverted to Watton NR where as expected an unidentified ‘stint’ was a Dunlin. Nice to see Common Terns feeding young though.

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 Common Terns at Tophill Low NR on Watton NR.

Had a look from L-shaped hide where as often moths provided more interest than bird.

Agonopterix alstromeriana, Copper Underwing and Mouse Moth at Tophill Low NR in L-shaped Hide

Back at South Marsh East where I had just missed the Wood Sandpiper but the Great White flew into view.

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Great white Egret at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

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Goosander at Tophill Low on South Marsh East.

Back round to the first hide and the Wood Sandpiper was showing but distant. Having opened the visitor centre and with no one else around to past the task on to I went up there with the hope of locking up and going but a had a steady stream of customers. No problem though just made myself a cup of tea and rigged up a ‘scope to show those interested a Little Gull. At least I’ve gone some of my way to paying for my annual permit!

 

25/7/17-Alkborough Flats

26 Jul

I hadn’t started the year with the intention of year listing but this month I have seem to be unintentionally listing so with little excitement about any of my local sites a trip across the bridge to Alkborough Flats appealed. The fact that the wind had dropped and, although overcast, rain wasn’t forecast. Quickly added Spoonbill, although only three, and stubbornly remained asleep at the back of the pool.

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Spoonbills-Alkborough Flats

Also my other target, Spotted Redshank, was present although also right at the back. Nearer were a number of Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet, and with a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls a single Yellow-legged Gull.

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Yellow-legged Gull with Lesser-backed Gull-Alkborough Flats

Water Rail was squealing under the hide and occasionally a chick would show. Bearded Tits were regularly calling and flying over but only once had one perched up long enough for a quick photo.

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Bearded Tit-Alkborough Flats

Eventually some of the waders came within range, including several young Avocets.

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Black-tailed Godwit-Alkborough Flats

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Spotted Redshank-Alkborough Flats

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Avocets-Alkborough Flats

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Little Egret-Alkborough Flats

Changes at Tophill Low NR

8 Aug

7/8/16 On Sunday morning with RL and ML had a chance to look round the building site of the new Tophill Low NR visitors centre.DSCN2192

RL and ML at the foot of the access rump to the future visitors centre.

The newly excavated visitors centre pond was already filling with a perceptible flow from the direction of the reservoir, whether a leak or groundwater we’re yet to know.

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RH and LR by the already filling visitors centre pond.

Turf uncovered by the excavation can be dated to 1958 as the original ground level of Tophill Low farm buried by earth from the excavation of D reservoir.

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RH pointing to preserved turf dating from 1958 when the waterworks was built.

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The beginning of the walk way from the future visitors centre. Still under construction this will change the way we navigate the reserve.

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Footings of the future visitors centre.

From the top of the access rump you can get a good view over D reservoir which reassured us that the new visitor centre would be at least as good as the current car park hide which will be removed.

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View of D reservoir from the top of the future visitors centre ramp.

Best to check the official Tophill Low blog for more information and future updates.

Bird-wise there was no real change since my visit on Wednesday. Had a Greenshank, 5 Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper on North Lagoon and another Green Sandpiper on South Marsh East.

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One of two Kingfishers on South Lagoon.

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Little Grebe feeding one of two chicks on South Lagoon.

Again didn’t challenge the Little Egret record, now standing at 24. One individual didn’t make it way under it own steam as after being found exhausted next to the road at Bewholme it was treated at Peel veterinary clinic at Hornsea before being released on the reserve.

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The released Little Egret on South Marsh East now looking a lot cleaner. 

Windy, but had a good number of butterflies in the shelter of O reservoir ditch including my first Small Copper this year.

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Small Copper in O reservoir ditch.

Also of note were two Painted Ladies and a Silver Y.

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Silver Y in O reservoir ditch.

Had sea watch at Atwick this afternoon followed by a quick look at Bewholme Hall pond. Neither produce anything of note. Looked at Swine Moor on the way home but no sign of last weeks Wood Sandpiper with only a Dunlin in it’s place.

Tophill Low NR

3 Aug

3/8/16 Went to Tophill Low NR with JH on Wednesday afternoon. Started in car park hide. Good number of wildfowl on D reservoir mainly Coot and Tufted Duck with smaller numbers of Pochard and Great Crested Grebe. An immature Little Grebe caused a bit of interest but failing to turn it into one of it’s rarer cousins we moved onto North Lagoon. Thanks to Richard’s water management there was plenty of mud and had 2 Green and a Common Sandpiper as well as a Little Egret.

Moving onto South Marsh East failed to beat the recent Little Egret record of 22 finding only 8 although 11 had been seen this morning.

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Little Egret close to South Marsh East hide

Did find 3 Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank and eventually searching the ducks found a Garganey.

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Green Sandpiper on South Marsh East.

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Greenshank on South Marsh East.

Lost the Garganey behind an island then it or a second flew in under hide. Due to the pale belly was an adult, likely a female.

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Garganey on South  Marsh East

Had another look from back-to-back hide and couldn’t see any Garganey so decided to stick with just one. Had Red-crested Pochard on South Marsh West. Nothing of interest on Watton NR but had a Painted Lady in South Scrub. Other butterflies included several Gatekeepers and a few Red Admirals, Peacock and Meadow Browns.

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Painted Lady in South Scrub

Dragonflies seen were a few Southern Hawkers, Brown Hawker and a Common Darter.

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Common Darter by O reservoir.

31/1/16 Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston [for the 4th year?]

31 Jan

Sunday morning went to Barmston with JH. Met JS on the cliff top. Hadn’t seen the Kumlien’s Gull yet but had yet to check beach to the north where it usually was seen. Walked to where I could get a full view of the beach north of the caravan park but the tide was close to high and there were no gulls on the beach. However there was a good passage of Herring Gulls moving south so kept an eye them while also checking for birds on the sea. Only had a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes. The gull movement slowed and was thinking about moving on when I noticed some agitation from two birders nearby. Was moving towards them as they called me. Quickly picked up the Kumlien’s flying over the beach from the the north. Went for my camera but aren’t too good at aerial shots so wasn’t expecting much.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull over Barmston beach.

Flew past us towards the outfall. Was glad to have seen it but had hoped for some better shots. Fortunately came back north and eventually settled on the beach were I got several better shots.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull-Barmston

Having got my fill checked the waders to the south. Nearly fifty Dunlin but only a few Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling and no sign of any Purple Sandpipers on the rocks.

Year list 108.

The Kumlien’s Gull was first seen in December 2012. Originally reported as a first winter Iceland Gull it’s dark appearance alerted birders, including Martin Garner, [sad to learn Martin is no longer around to share his knowledge] to the possibility of it being a Kumlien’s. This was confirmed on it’s return in December 2013. There was no sign of it the following winter but a 3rd winter Iceland Gull was seen at Barmston around Easter. This proved elusive but I had a bird fitting the description at Hornsea Mere on 12th April. It was distant but I was left with the feeling “Why isn’t this the Kumlien’s?”.

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3w Iceland Gull at Hornsea Mere-12/4/15 

Worth noting that this time of year, as both a 1st and 2nd winter, the Kumlien’s had showed bleached primaries and wasn’t readily split from an Iceland Gull [see here]. Finally this year it was seen at Hornsea Mere on Kirkholme Point on the afternoon of Sunday 19th January. Annoyingly I’d been at other end at Wassand Hide all morning but had decided to head to Tophill Low NR early afternoon. Checked Barmston the following Sunday and then Tuesday morning so today was third time lucky.

Here are some better pictures taken last week by Tony Dixon.Kumlien's Gull 001

Kumlien’s Gull at Barmton-Tony Dixon

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Headed for Hornsea Mere late morning. Checked the fields near Skirlington Market where I’d seen a White-fronted Goose and five Pink-footed Geese with Greylags on Tuesday but no sign today.

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Greylag Geese near Skirlington Market-26/1/16-with White-fronted Goose [above] and Pink-footed Geese [below].

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Had a drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, my first this year, but couldn’t find anything else, not helped by the heavy drizzle.

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Drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere

Year list 109.

Decided to head for Tophill Low NR instead of Wassand Hide.

Refound the drake Scaup seen yesterday then headed south. A Little Egret was showing well on North Lagoon but no surprise after seeing 19 of them nearby north of High Eske NR on Monday.

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Little Egret on North Lagoon, Tophill Low NR.

Saw nothing else of note but missed a drake Pintail on Watton NR. Had a look for Woodcock behind the old centre but gave up because of heavy drizzle. Lack of any recent interesting gulls didn’t encourage us to hang on till dusk.