More birds in Norfolk

The whale on Hunstanton beach is beginning to decay. Scientists have taken his lower jaw and samples from his body. His grey intestines now lie 100 yards or so from the rest of his corpse, and he has been turned round completely by the movement of the sea.

His presence is obviously providing work for some:

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The sand and stone around Hunstanton is a gorgeous colour:

imageand the sand looks good enough to add a spoonful to your coffee. The carrstone – iron-rich sandstone – makes walls look like ginger biscuits:

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and adds drama to the cliffs:

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Chalk at the top, then reddish chalk, then carrstone

Local materials don’t rule out a few fancy touches, like a scrolled gable ornament:

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I suddenly remembered the beachfront cafe in Old Hunstanton (visited some 15 years ago) when I saw a sign to it just 50 yards from the hotel. (There was another madeleine moment later in the day at Denver sluices, which control the flow of water between the land and the Wash.)

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The RNLI station is opposite. The cafe looks rather smarter – and less enticing – than I remember it.

Unfortunately there were no nesting FULMARS on the cliffs, although I had definitely seen some squabbling about desirable sites on Monday evening. I now know better than to refer to them as gulls; they are, in fact, members of the albatross family, recognisable, as any fule kno, by the stiffly-held wings.

On the beach, the tide had revealed part of a tropical petrified forest. What you could see was a bit like peat-going-on-coal.

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All around here are celery-like plants called Alexanders, introduced into Britain by the Romans. It wasn’t so much the plant (or its flavour) that caught my notice as the form of its name. Like “ramsons”, it appears to be a plural. (A couple of days of talking about lots of teal or lapwings or geese have sensitised me to plurals.)

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From the beach at Snettisham nature reserve you can look across the Wash to the Boston stump. In the gravel pits before the beach were a pair of goldeneye:

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but (obviously) I was too far away to get a clear photo. On the beach itself were loads of oystercatchers relaxing after a hard feeding session on the mudflats.

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Today’s new birds were:

WHOOPER SWANS, who whoop and visit from Iceland. Angular yellow bit to their short bills and rather upright necks.  There were thousands at Welney:

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And here are a couple who posed for me:

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POCHARDS, diving ducks. The male has a rusty red head and an almost white body ending in a black tip. Very cute. No idea what the female looks like, as they (sensibly) overwinter in Spain.

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Male pochards with a whooper swan.

Not a new entry into the charts, but included because I immediately recognised them, are wigeon:

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BEWICK SWANS I will probably never be able to distinguish from whopper swans, but they are a bit smaller and the yellow around their beak is a rounder shape.

And my cutest so far – bath-time favourite, the TUFTED DUCK. A diving duck with a floppy backwards fringe and a golden eye:

image.jpegAnd here they are altogether at feeding time at Welney:

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