Saturday, 29 January 2011

Surlingham update

A return to the bitterly cold conditions of the Christmas period, one or two ditches holding water were slushy with ice. Walking down to the beginning of the reserve trail, a few vocal Blue and Great Tits stopped us in our tracks. A wheezing call alerted me to 2 Brambling, always great to see and a year tick to boot. I set up my scope hoping for a better look, but the pair became agitated and flew off. Further along the track, a Bullfinch called for the first time this year, and a party of Long-tailed Tits moreorless followed us round.
Looking out to Woods End, again a smattering of Golden Plover were amongst the Lapwing- I counted at least 14. The Greylag flock were present, including the 4 farmyard oddball types. A Cormorant was on the river, as were 4 Coot.
A Mute Swan was out on the main lagoon, but apart from a flyover flock of Tufted Duck, not much else to report. Still, another couple of year ticks and some territorial action from the commoner Tits.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Target bird nailed amongst other things

A week punctuated by the sight and sound of day-flying Pink Footed Geese skeins...over Norwich! Couldn't get one on the Surlingham list though.
Surlingham Saturday afternoon.

Managed to tick off one of my target birds for the year a little earlier than expected; a flyover Little Egret, which I waved towards the marsh but eventually it was lost to sight, probably landing at Wheatfen. Across at Wood's End, a number of Fieldfare were feeding amongst a mixed group of Greylags, Magpies and Crows, an odd assortment. A closer inspection revealed at least 2 Redwing, new for the year!

Whilst the scrub it still quiet, save for a couple of Blue Tits, the lagoon finally gave me something to shout about. A pair of Shelduck were presumably checking out some potential breeding sites, and I approached with caution. The problem with the open-fronted bus shelter hide is that it is not really a hide at all, and unsuprisingly the birds saw me, quacked a bit, and then flew off towards Wheatfen. However, this was also a new bird for my reserve list! Further round the track, a Grey Heron was new for the year list and a few Wigeon and Teal are still holed in up the large back garden.

A trip back to see the folks allowed me a chance to see the female Ferruginous Duck at Bosmere Lake, Needham Market. I had stupidly written off females as crap after seeing a stonking male at Barton last winter; on close inspection this was actually one smart duck. Lovely round brown head, beady eye and white backside. If I kept a 'home with the folks' list, this would be a good bird to have on it.

Driving home I made what has become an annual stop at farmland near Great Moulton, managed a flock of at least 7 Bullfinch. Following on from the crap theme mentioned earlier, I went a bit Chris Packham over this well placed turd:

Monday, 17 January 2011

Weekend Ramblings minus a twist

Saturday afternoon was as is often the case, spent at Surlingham. Very quiet on site, and whilst I love being out around dusk I must at least try to go earlier next week to pick up some passerines. The geese at Wood's End were noticeably absent, although 4 Canadas flew over once I was back at the car. Beyond the hides where the turn off for the Ferry Pub meets the track, a Barn Owl was hunting and I was able to obtain some cracking views.
Magpies and in particular Jays appear to thrive at Surlingham, so a noisy group of Magpies at first did little to excite on route back to the car. However, a closer look revealed a total of 38 Magpies at a pre-roost gathering. I am unsure whether they remained in that spot to roost, although they seemed content enough, despite being dive-bombed by what was presumably a local Sparrowhawk. A Meadow Pipit over was a year tick.
Yesterday, and a casual trip out to one or two of the broads. Wroxham was full of Black Headed Gulls, a few Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Duck, Pochard and a Siskin called overhead, but sadly nothing of real interest could be found. Barton Broad was a little better, over 10 Goldeneye here and a Marsh Harrier hunting.
A quick stop at Happisburgh and a Grey Seal was at sea, and 2 skeins of Pink-Footed Geese called noisily overhead.
Pleased to hear that a Ferruginous Duck was found at Cockshoot; after the pleasure the pain- why did we not go there?! That could have been me!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Cantley then Surlingham

With time on my hands and with it being the last day of the holiday, I finally decided to have a look at the Lesser White Fronted Goose which has been frequenting Buckenham and Cantley marshes. Having always used the marshes at Buckenham as a starting point, I have never actually made it down to Cantley, so was quite taken aback by the fantastic views from Burnthouse Lane. Sure enough, the LWFG was in with the Taiga Bean Geese. Noticeably smaller even from some distance, and the 'blaze' on the face appeared 'fatter' than on those of the nearby White Fronted Geese. A couple next to me were discussing the eye ring in some depth, but then they did have a better scope. Regardless of the bird's wild credentials, this was an educational experience for I have never seen a LWFG in any context!
A Barn Owl and Kestrel were hunting the reed bed towards the back of the marsh.

This guy was laying on the verge near where I parked the car; sadly an all too brief 2011 for him.

Surlingham as usual threw up some good birds. A Coal Tit greeted me, singing from the churchyard. Looking out to the Wood's End marsh, In amongst 81 Lapwing, was a new patch bird- 9 Golden Plover! Having seen Lapwing here before, I should have expected a Goldie at some point really, but a nice suprise nonetheless. Another Barn Owl was hunting here.
I counted 30 species but by now this was a little late in the day, many of the smaller birds were settling down for the night. Still, a good start to the year and chuffed with my GP.

The lagoon still won't thaw!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Exciting trip to Lowestoft! Yes, really!

The long-staying Iceland Gull at Lowestoft finally proved too tempting, and a worthwhile visit it was. Excellent views down to a few metres were obtained of the bird at Ness Point. I did manage a couple of shots which of course do not do this bird justice, but at least the camera is out of the drawer. A single Purple Sandpiper was seen on the rocks, and c11 Turnstone were counted.

Driving back through Norwich, a group of likely looking suspects near the station gave me a buzz- around 10 Waxwings were in a tiny tree opposite the entrance to Riverside car-park. A good self-found tick, and probably the shortest height from the ground I have ever seen Waxwings perched. Nice.

After inputting me Surlingham life list into Bubo Listings, minus the spring and summer, I am currently on 77 species. Even with the expected Warblers and suchlike, I have re-targeted my yearly total- I am aiming for 90 species this year! That final total will include the marshy ground around Wood's End (I'm having that Peregrine) and the hilly ground and grazing fields around the gun club.

So, some pictures from the day. Don't scroll down if you are expecting Waxwing or anything digiscoped.

Turnstone City



Look Carefully.