But which one? Not anything on March 10th!
Snowy owl confirmed as still present Thornham Point, Norfolk. Within half an hour I had an overnight booking in Hunstanton, everything packed [thanks to Sheila], lunch and flasks etc included and I was on my way. Instructions were to go to Titchwell and walk. I decided to go to Thornham harbour to get a feel of what was happening. Lots of scopes trained on the distant shoreline. Thanks to Brett Richards [of Flamborough seawatch team] I soon had scope views of the snowy owl. I eventually saw it fly about 60m to the left!
Cuckoo shot coming up. [Regular readers know that a 'cuckoo shot' is a very distant view of a bird, not even qualifying to be as good as a record shot!] Well, this is the ultimate cuckoo shot! The snowy owl is on the shoreline left of the two posts. Looks like a dark blob!
Let's zoom in a bit. She's turned her head to look at us! Lifer 435 anyway. Scope views were much better.
I headed to Titchwell. Watched a woodcock in someone else's scope; yellow-legged gull reported and seen out on the Freshwater Marsh. Red-crested pochard on Patsy's Reedbed.
Next morning I had a late breakfast and waited till 9am to see if the owl was reported. Sadly it was reported late morning when people had much closer views. I was long gone at Frampton Marsh by then. It was a lovely day: ruffs, newly arrived avocets, lots of skylarks...
[Note the leg colour on these birds - from yellow to salmon pink to grey]
...a few barnacle geese and lapwings.
I headed north. Decided to have another break at Broomhill near Old Moor. Just a young woman in the car park. We chatted. She'd been standing there since 11am. It was ten to two. Turned out she was from Lostock Hall near Preston where I used to go train-spotting many years ago. We shared memories of places we both had frequented decades apart. I told her 2 o'clock was a good time for the hawfinch. She asked me to keep watch while she slipped across to look at the pig pond. I said I'd scream 'Preston' loudly if it turned up.
I spotted a lump in the depths of one of the trees. Raised my bins and shouted 'Preston' very loudly. Eventually the young woman heard and came back. I'd taken my eye off the bird but it was still there. Two o'clock precisely. She got her lifer in heavy shade but she was happy.
Ambition fulfilled not because it was a year tick - I'd seen quite a few - but I wanted a decent, well-lit photo and all my efforts so far had been dull, grey shaded, overcast or distant efforts. This time was better.
First attempt trying to penetrate the framework of the tree. I moved round to a different angle. The sun tried to come out at just the right moment. The only British bird with a stainless steel bill!
Went to Wombwell afterwards; saw a chiffchaff and met up with Robin and Kirsty from my last Scotland trip. They'd dropped in to see the yellow-browed warbler. I was happy with the chiffchaff and set off home.