With a black kite lingering in Kent I was tempted down for the day on Sunday, with Andy Lawson and James Hunter. We made a quick stop for some roadside man orchids before visiting an adder site. Four were located in total, mainly gravid females. It was then on to Oare Marshes where the Bonaparte's was showing well from the Seawatch Hide. We headed off for the black kite but sadly it had moved on, though we had displaying honey buzzards nearby. After drawing a blank for heath fritillary we returned to Oare and eventually had much closer views of the Bonaparte's as it loafed on the near island with some black-headed gulls. The Thames Estuary has been rather good for Bonaparte's of late with a couple knocking about on the London stretch last year, just 3 or 4 miles from my old stomping ground of East Ham. An interesting leucistic black-headed out on the mud at Oare provided some additional interest, as did a few pinging beardies in the reeds and 1 or 2 med gulls also.
On the way back news came through of a roller in Norfolk. There was plenty of daylight left but I just couldn't face the long drive to Norfolk having only had a couple of hours' sleep the night before.It would just have to wait.
The following day I headed up early evening however. The bird flew off at around the time I left my house and wasn't refound til nearly 2 hours later, by which time I had been on site for just 10 minutes or so. On arrival I had walked away from the main crowd to the area it had been frequenting the previous day. Good move – after just a few minutes I noticed someone up ahead running. Pretty soon the crowd of 50 os so was following us and minutes later we all treated to fairly distant views (200m) as woodlarks sung overhead at what was a rather pleasant location.
By the time I'd left I'd seen the bird a little closer (perhaps 150m) but getting really close remains a problem, with the bird fairly skittish. The longer it stays of course the better the photos will become, particularly as the crowds drop and the photographers get bolder! For me, it's a valuable Norfolk tick and I'm happy enough with my fuzzy, grainy hand-held digiscoped shot!
For a few years roller had become rather difficult and was even MEGA'd once or twice. With several twitchable birds present since last year however there is now no excuse for needing this most attractive of avian visitors!