Friday, 31 December 2010

Last outing of the year, 30th December

Had really hoped to catch up with the LWF at Cantley by now, but with foggy conditions forecast in Norfolk for the next few days, that would (hopefully) have to wait until the New Year.
Debs and I began at Strumpshaw, relatively early, in search of Bitterns on ice. There had been Bitterns showing in front of Fen Hide, but not whilst we were present. I would tentatively suggest this may have had something to do with camera shutters clicking away when anything flew by/landed out front; 5 going off all at once makes for quite a racket! Luckily, this didn't put off the Water Rails too much, of which 4 individuals were counted. One brave individual made a dash across the ice, but he was quickly gunned down by the crowd of photographers, clearly spooked. Is there really any skill in just firing away like crazy, or am I being too harsh?
Following the boardwalk, we could hear some Pink Footed Geese somewhere close, but the fog meant we couldn't see them. Other than that, Marsh Harrier, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit and Chinese Water Deer were the other bits and bobs of note.

Went to Surlingham after lunch; seemed fitting my last visit anywhere this year should be here.
The fog had by now worsened and views across the river were non-existant. Some Coot were still on the river, along with Gadwall and Mallard. As before, the reedbed itself was silent; haven't heard the Cettis for a few weeks. An odd highlight came in the form of a flyover flock of Goldfinch and Linnet, unseen; the Linnet was a very late patch tick for me!

With the day's action all but over, this got me thinking about targets for the year. Having only begun birding Surlingham Church Marsh seriously since August, I am finding it difficult to set a species total target. I would guess at 130 (although once I have set up my BUBO account, I may adjust this total next week). I also need to set those patch boundaries out more clearly. Highlights so far have been Hen Harrier, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Brambling and Green Sandpiper.
My individual targets for the site are as follows: Spotted Flycatcher, Marsh Tit, Garganey, Little Egret, Lesser Redpoll. I think these are all well within reach. An outside bet would be Lesser Pecker....and who knows what waders! In terms of potential rarities, the scrub and reedbed is crying out for a Marsh or even Savi's Warbler, and Red Footed Falcon would go down well.
I have not decided on 'bigger picture' targets yet, although finding something decent on the east coast goes without saying.
Best decision I have made since moving to Norfolk was to start birding a local patch. Thoroughly enjoyable few months here and another year in Norfolk. Thanks for reading, and heres to a cracking 2011! That Steller's Eider in Estonia is a little bit closer.........
(Oh, and a New Year's resolution will be to take more pictures, I know the blog needs brightening up. Now, wheres that Whiskey bottle........).

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas, and still the thaw will not come.

I could quite happily watch the garden birds from Mum's window all day. More often than not, with drink in hand, this is what I spent much of the festive period doing. Fieldfare and Redwing would sometimes stop to rest in the bare trees, whilst Song Thrush, 10+ Blackbird, Tits, Pheasant and Robin fed on or around the feeders provided. Star bird was spotted by my 10 year old cousin, a male Bullfinch feeding amongst Chaffinches.
Leaving rural Suffolk and returning home today, of course I found time to stop off at Surlingham on route. For once, there were ducks on the river- Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Mallard. A group of Coot cracked on with some much needed weeding, and Wigeon were grazing on the opposite bank. Exciting stuff, for the patch. Further away, towards Postwick, 3 farmyard type geese fed amongst the Greylag. Without my scope, it was difficult to gauge size but they appeared a little cumbersome and nothing of real interest. A couple of Lapwing were out on the marsh.
Carrying on with the usual circuit, a Bullfinch called from deep within the scrub. The reed bed itself was silent, not even the Cettis was singing. I had to walk round to the ruins to see another bird, but worth the walk it was. A mixed flock of finches held one Brambling, and 2 Bullfinch called and quickly flew off. Good stuff! A few Teal were in evidence on the unfrozen dykes, and a Grey Heron was fishing. No sign of the Bittern that Ben had seen, but still a good few birds to blog about.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Some Thrush action

Whilst I am giving a talk on STDs at school tomorrow, the heading of this blogpost has nothing to do with the nasty kind of Thrush.
A lovely flock of c40Fieldfare on the hill at Surlingham held a Redwing and Mistle Thrush, enjoying the company of its visitors from the north.
Apart from the usual Cettis and Reed Bunting, the reserve was quiet and therefore I have little to report! However,one mammalian highlight 'popped' up in the form of a Weasel, my second here at Surlingham. This little fellow slipped out of the river-bank undergrowth and trotted away down the path at the foot of the ruins, completely unaware of my presence.
Ducks are in short supply right now, since much of the lagoon is still frozen over. Teal are again favouring the 'back garden area' of the reserve!
A Little Grebe on the river is going on the list, thank-you.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Dancing on ice

A Water Rail, of course. My hoped for bird of the weekend, watched sliding around on an iced dyke at Buckenham Marshes today. Bitterly cold, lost all feeling in my hands after a while so the trip was cut a little shorter than planned. I did however manage to see a gaggle of 20+ White Fronted Geese and 15+ Barnacles, difficult to ascertain exact numbers due to the distance. Ducks were much closer though, Teal and Wigeon were feeding either side of the track.The noise was immense, it was like being in the middle of the flock. Plenty of Lapwing around, but no raptors.
I popped into Strumpshaw Fen on the way back home, and much of the action was around the visitor centre. A reported Northern Bullfinch could not be located, but I did pick out a couple of Lesser Redpoll in amongst the Siskin flocks. Marsh Tits also in good number and vocal.
Yesterday, I only had time for Surlingham. Other than the usual suspects it was a little quiet on the reserve, no doubt due to a frozen lagoon and visibilty was down to less than 50 metres. I could hear Thrushes on the move, and then a group of angry Blackbirds allowed me to watch a Tawny Owl at roost. An expected, but welcome, bird for the patch list.