Compared to Malaysia, there are very, very few birds around the places we've visited so far, and also compared to my memories of the UK ten years ago. Of course, the season doesn't help, nor the fact that it gets dark in mid-afternoon, but still - the birdlessness is quite an unpleasant shock!
One of the few birds that still visits my parents' bird feeder - a European Goldfinch. Even Robins, House Sparrows and Starlings are tough birds to see these days it seems.
A visit to my old favourite haunt, Lowestoft, was another shock. Enormous wind turbines have sprung up, even in the sea, and an industrial estate now sits inland of Ness Point. This was one of a small flock of Meadow Pipits sheltering in the lea of the seawall.
What I was really looking for was some Purple Sandpipers, which used to frequent the seaweed-covered breakwaters. Eventually I found a couple, unfortunately rather distant on a couple of groynes.
At this point the course of our day was drastically altered by my wife falling heavily onto the concrete seawall, smashing her face up pretty badly and fracturing her left wrist. The rest of the day was spent experiencing the primitive services of Great Yarmouth hospital A & E. It made us glad to be living in Malaysia!
On our way to and from regular appointments at the outpatients department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, we came across a 500-strong flock of European Golden Plovers.
I gave them a good going over but was not able to pick out any Pacific or American Golden Plovers among them. Not an easy job, with the birds being rather distant and huddled down in the furrows of the field, trying to keep as much out of the wind as possible!
In flight, European Goldies differ from both American and Pacific Goldies in having white axillaries and underwing coverts as opposed to grey. It wasn't so easy to distinguish the true colour of the underwings from the effects of shadow in the strong low sunlight.
Once the flock took flight, they spend ages flying around before deciding it was safe to land again.
Watching the flock twist and turn, flashing dark and light like a shoal of fish, was a brilliant sight!
From above, they have a more obvious white wingbar than American or Pacific.
Coming in to land again.