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........).