Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snowy visit to the patch

An early rise on a Sunday can only mean 2 things- my better half is away for the weekend, and I have not yet managed a trip out since last Sunday. Difficult to plan, when the weather is so unpredictable and mock papers need marking.
Odd goings on at the start of the circular walk- 5 Cormorants were fishing on the Yare, these guys usually just fly through. The marshes at Woods End were devoid of geese- these were also in the river- but a lovely sight ensued, a Red Fox was out on patrol, padding through the white stuff. 2 Egyptian Geese honked loudly in the offending direction.
The scrub held the usual Tit flocks, and 2 Bullfinch called, unseen. The lagoon was completely forzen over, and I had rather hoped for a Water Rail, displaced. A flock of c10 Reed Bunting buzzed through the reeds, and 2 Bearded Tit pinged through.
Making my way round to the ruins, I was alerted to a mixed flock of Goldfinch and Siskin, which settled in a large oak. A female Kestrel joined them, which initially upset the flock but they did settle. An amusing scene then took place: the Kestrel took off, landed on a tree nearby, and the flock followed. Seeking protection?
Then, more odd news. A family of Mute Swans appeared to harbour 2 Canada Geese, if a little reluctantly. More security in numbers? Walking back towards the church, I could hear Wigeon call. Through the flooded woodland, I could see a flock of around 20, with 15 Teal. They were on a small pool, at the bottom of someone's garden. This is a small, secluded spot and perhaps I can understand the Teal being here, but the Wigeon should surely be elsewhere? Finally, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was in the churchyard trees.

Interesting article in the Observer regarding the 'release' of Beavers in Scotland. This is something I am personally in favour of, although setting 20 loose illegally is perhaps not the way to go about these things. Cannot seem to post a link, but it is on the website.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Surlingham and surrounds

Arriving at Coldham Hall car park, the smell of Sunday roasts from within reminded me I should book a table here for a sit down meal over Christmas. The small tracts of RSPB managed marsh and reed beds were quiet, save for a Cettis and the odd vocal Reed Bunting. A young Marsh Harrier, not presumed Northern, passed through in comfort despite being harried by a Crow. A largish flock of Siskin called but refused to settle.
Down at the patch, a record count of 100+ Greylag Geese were on the marshes at Wood's End. A muddy puddle held a Herring Gull and intriguingly a Green Sandpiper. A march round to the hides and I was able to take in the usual Long Tailed Tits, Blackbirds and the odd Redwing. Despite the noise from the rifle range, a few Mallard were loafing in the lagoon, and just as I was thinking the muddy margins looked promising, presumably the same Green Sandpiper dropped in. A good bird for the site, and this individual fed and settled well, unlike the birds I saw in August. A female Sparrowhawk was also out for a feed, much to the annoyance of the local thrushes.
Finally, I caught up with some Siskin on the patch, a mixed flock including Goldfinch flew overhead as I headed back to the car. Less water about today, although wellies still a must.
Hoping for some Owls, I finished off at the marshes around Langley and Claxton. The Corvid roost is by now quite a spectacle, and a single Barn Owl made for a nice finish to the afternoon as darkness fell.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Surlingham on Saturday

Short on time this weekend just gone, so much so that I had to turn down a lift to the Pied-billed Grebe near Manchester. Congrats on seeing the bird though lads, heres hoping it stays true to form and hangs around into the New Year.
Taking my usual route round Surlingham, a look across the river towards Wood's End revealed very little, which is odd since this is usually a good spot for Geese and Gulls. I soon picked up the reason for this: a Peregrine Falcon was on the ground, quite how long it had been there was unclear. However, when I finally get round to defining the boundaries of 'The Patch', I could do with Peregrine on the list.
The scrub and bushes that skirt the main area of reed bed and marsh were full of Fieldfare, the largest flock being 20. A sorrowful call alerted me to the presence of a Bullfinch, one of 'ours', which proved elusive but I did get a brief view before he departed across the river. Heard before, but not seen until now, so a new bird for the patch! As if to accentuate that point, a group of Siskin called from somewhere. Next time maybe.
Nothing from either hide, but large parts of the marshy land were now underwater and were attracting Black-headed Gulls, Mallard and Teal, all of which clearly preferred to feed here than on the deeper lagoon. A Sparrowhawk breezed through, confirming the Surlingham area as the raptor capital of the Broads. Thats Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Peregrine, Marsh and Hen Harrier here since August, plus Barn and Little Owl.
The churchyard held a few Redwing and Goldcrest, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called. This looks like being a good spot in spring, Spotted Flycatcher the obvious target.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Happisburgh duck watch

Great range of species, mainly duck, seen off Happisburgh this a'noon, between 13.40 and 15.00.
In no particular order:
c100 Common Scoter, one Velvet a little closer to the shore.
1 Little Auk bombing South.
2 Great Black-Backed Gulls, distantly.
8 Brent Geese.
An incredible 163 Common Eider, all heading north.
Female and Male Goldeneye, not together.
11 Wigeon.
1 Kittiwake resting up on a groyne before flying off northwards.

Inland, 14 Golden Plover, 10 Skylark and c15 Lapland Buntings capped off an excellent afternoon in the field.

Gotta admit, I just can't get excited by this Northern Harrier business. But then, I did rubbish the advanced Bird ID Guide. I now believe it to be essential reading.
Flights booked to Estonia next April, a week of 'birding, racoon-dogs and culture'. Very excited, Steller's Eider, Great Snipe, Owls, Peckers, Bears, who knows. Details to follow. If anyone has been, any tips would be greatly appreciated.