After the mildly successful afternoon out at Cley the previous day, we made plans for a wild goose chase…
The previous evening, the Todd’s Canada Goose, which had been present for a couple of months now in NW Norfolk, was refound near Choseley, known for attracting Dotterel, Rough-legged Buzzards and, in 2004, a Pine Bunting. It had been seen in a very large Pink-footed Goose flock feeding in a beet field; perfect.
Upon arrival, we discovered half the flock (at least 2,000) were still in a winter wheat field on the other side of Choseley village (yes, it does exist; that little clump of houses) to the drying barns. They had been flushed by a person walking up the road: geese flocks, especially Pinkfeet, can be extremely jumpy, so never make yourself obvious if you are looking at geese less than c.30m away. Shouting, slamming a car door, or even driving past very quickly can make geese very edgy & flush them. We had a look at this part of the flock, and the fact half of them were asleep & it was misty didn’t help, so we moved on.
There is a bend in the road as you come up to the drying barns which is often referred to as ‘the bend’: the beet field could be viewed from here. Typically however, despite seven birders looking, the mist & the land relief hampered our efforts. We decided to try another angle, from a road on the west side of the field, and bingo. There it was.
Then, just as we were watching it, the geese in the NW part of the field flew up, thereby flushing all the other geese. It was quite a spectacle; 20,000 Pink-footed Geese (and, admittedly, two Tundra Bean Geese too) waffling around & wailing their cranky call. The Todd’s Canada Goose also woke up & flew around, before falling asleep again.
Job done, we moved on to Titchwell for a leisurely walk & socialise: when we arrived at the sea, a spectacular event was presented to us: hundreds, possibly thousands, of ducks were on the sea. We immediately picked out the Black-throated Diver, but unfortunately no sign of the Slavonian Grebe which had been reported. Also in the vast flocks were six Scaup, at least 20 Velvet Scoter, and 70 LONG-TAILED DUCKS!!!! Never before had I seen so many of these exquisite birds. All while being surrounded by Common Scoter absolutely everywhere: truly magical.
The beach, too, was filled with birds. Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Little Egrets, Brent Geese, Sanderlings, Bar-tailed Godwits & many gulls flew around us as we stood there watching the ducks.
Then to cap it all off, a spectacular sunset on the walk back. Titchwell had struck gold once again!