Here is my story:
Having left work and tried Salthouse for any news on the Richard's Pipit, I continued onto Walsey Hills to look for the Yellow-browed Warbler. After a fruitless search, just missing someone else's sighting, it all broke:
MEGA Norfolk RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN north of Wells at East Hills this a'noon. Access details to follow.
Well that was it and I was on my way. Interestingly, some at Walsey didn't bother immediately, saying that it wouldn't be possible to get out to East Hills! Well, anyway, I continued. Maybe a route would be marked, maybe even a boat might be chartered, who knew, but I had to go and investigate.
Just as I was pulling into Garden Drove (the western-most access track) the pager went off again:
...still late a'noon ENE of Wells on Saltmarsh... (this sent the panic far and wide)
maniacal behaviour set in, as I created a tidal wave through the watered access road! Onto the concrete pad and a carload of 'birders' were already leaving (!) A quick check with them and I was off down the path. I was quite surprised at the number of people already there (there were some strange co-incidences involving some parties!) Over the next 40 mins or so there was no sign, when suddenly the bird was seen near one of its original places. Jockeying for position, I could see some movement in the leaves, but no bird! A few minutes later, it moved. Rubbish 'flight' views and it seemed to land nearby. Again no sign (the bird would seemingly remain motionless for periods, completely out of view). Then the shout went up again! A small number had very brief, but good views as it dropped down and flew straight over my head! Great flight views!! Even here the contrast between the vent and belly and 'smudged' grey (latter seen better to be described as mottled) flanks and throat could be noted.
It returned back to the 'original' tree, which was obviously and quickly surrounded. I joined a few in the field to try and find it from another view point. Again moments of nothing (and time to ask about the find and events that followed - there had been some 'rumours' around about timing etc, so it was good to hear from the finder and id'er!) but then another short flight. It went across the path and into some more ivy. I quickly clambered through some undergrowth and raised my bins to immediately see it move out of the ivy and into the branches, brief, but practically out in full view. I was amazed at the size of the birds eye, presumably exaggerated by the seemingly complete eye-ring. It was here that the olive brown upper parts were noted and, particularly the mottled grey, with white 'spots' and as it moved across and away, the final piece of the puzzle, the short, rufous tail could be see! Others next to me could see the bird moving through and we tried to get others on it. Some thought it moved through, but I hadn't noted any further movement. Whatever happened, I had no further views, although others were still seeing occasional movement in the fading light.
I took the opportunity to thank and congratulate the finder and asked a number of 'locals' if there was any thought about arranging parking and access, but no-one seemed interested! Credit goes (I believe) to Richard Millington, who contacted the land owners and arranged access to the field for parking.
Obviously, I would have like better views (and was ready to return today if the bird had still been present, but decided to avoid the madness)! I have heard that anyone 'counting' the bird after 5 pm would 'do so on their own concience', but those of you who know me, know I have no conscience, so...
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