Sunday, 1 January 2012

On the eve of 2012

Couple of days birding in The Broads to report back on, and some thoughts on 2012, if you care for them. 
On the 30th, Debs and I again visited the ruins of St. Benet's abbey. We were treated to views of a Short-eared Owl soon after arriving, whilst two Barn Owls seemed to work a circuit around us, our company for the evening. The Shortie was proving elusive, but was eventually tracked down at rest on a perch, offering cracking views. Another 'eared-Owl' was seen briefly along the adjacent dyke, and 4+ Marsh Harriers flew into roost. As with last time, a steady stream of Cormorants overhead- just where do they go? 
Yesterday, I was keen to finish the year with a trip to Surlingham Church Marsh. Barely a bird on the reserve, the limited action was on the river and meadows. 2 Little Grebe, 2 Great-crested Grebe and some Ducks were on the Yare, and across at Wood's End the feral Greylag flock was out in force, along with a good dosage of Gulls- perhaps a chance of something scarce, genuinely quite a few out there!
So, a record breaking (!) year at Surlingham. Targets for next year, below.
I then continued the day and paid a visit to Hardley Flood. Minus a scope (my new maverick attitude to birding) it was tricky to id everything, but amongst the usual species were a group of 57 Curlew, which left before dusk as a group and probably represented my highlight of the day.
Finished at Langley Marshes, from the Wherryman's Way footpath. Gorgeous Norfolk evening. Across the river, I could just make out the White-fronted Goose flock at Cantley. A Marsh Harrier drifted into roost amongst the now departing Corvids, classic Broads Birding. 3 Barn Owls were soon out hunting, and walking back to the car a Tawny Owl was my last bird of 2011. My last mammal was not the expected Chinese Water Deer, but a Bat sp, encouraged to feed in the mild air. 

As aforementioned, I broke the 100 species mark in a year at Surlingham. Highlights have included Crossbill, Short-eared Owl and at times an excellent Wader Passage. Whilst I can't get enough of the patch buzz, this has taken some doing, as regular readers will know! 2 species were heard-only, and I am not missing too many extras. I will therefore set myself a target of 103 species for 2012 on the patch. 

Furthermore, some target birds I am yet to see at Surlingham:
Lesser Redpoll 
Pink-footed Goose
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Flyatcher

See how I manage with that lot!

Looking further afield, finding something decent on the East Coast is always a target, and I plan to get under the skin of Scratby, Caister and Hemsby this Spring and Autumn. 
Having reached 300 species BOU in 2011 (including Little Bittern, Sandhill Crane and Daurian Shrike) I am in no rush to dash around after the next 'tick', but I would like to see a Red-breasted Flycatcher this year! 

Estonia was memorable in so many ways, not least since I got to share it all with Debs. Grey-headed Woodpecker lured with the HTC, Ural Owl on nest and Steller's Eider at sea just some of the best bits. 
2012 and no trip abroad for us, but we are planning a late summer trip to Northumberland. 

Finally, a big thanks to all the good folk I have met and befriended through birding. You help make the hobby what it is for me, and I am looking forward to another year in the field, and look forward to bumping into you, whether it be trundling around the patch or at the next Norfolk twitch!

Norfolk- come get some!

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