Genuinely good session at Surlingham Saturday morning, regardless of the season. 3 Bullfinch, a female then a pair, were a treat and ever since last December I seem to be doing well with this species, and long may it continue. The Wood's End marshes had turned into a flash, which held c350 Black-headed Gull, a record count for the patch. 2 Kingfishers were seen on the river, one fishing from Surlingham Landspring, almost in the carpark! The common birds also seemed more evident today; Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch overhead.
From the hide, two (yes, two) female Marsh Harriers were hunting. Last year was a poor year for Harriers on the reserve, so this bodes well. One bird flushed 11 Snipe- another patch record. No doubt the Snipe are ever-present out there, but I have never seen a group this large. One bird looked smaller than the rest, and I instantly thought of Jack Snipe, although from experience this species does not flush so easily and if it is spooked, will only fly a short distance before landing. Who knows.
Walking back to the carpark, the pine trees adjacent to the churchyard held a noisy Tit flock, which held every Tit species I have ever recorded at Surlingham, including a Coal and two Marsh! Great to get that under my belt so early in the year. Now for that year list on Bubo......
Saturday and Sunday evening were spent out in The Broads raptor watching. It was nice to be joined by proud dad Ricky on the Saturday, not put off by the strong winds. Neither was James of Happisburgh fame! We struggled on in the cold, James picked out a pair of Common Cranes not far from the wild Swan flock; 36 distantly, seemed to be more Whoopers than Bewicks. 35 Golden Plover were on a ploughed field, and other birds of interest were a single Kestrel and 4 Barn Owl. The biggest, literally, suprise was a Red Deer Hind over the river. At first glance we thought it was a horse!
Sunday was a much better day weather-wise, and the birds played ball. 4 Short-eared Owls, 4 Barn Owls, 4 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine and a Male Hen Harrier (which I missed!) made for a Raptor super-fest! A Stonechat was picked out by the sharp eyes of my little cousin, and distantly a group of 10 Cranes landed out of sight. Only one place I'll be next weekend! Added to that I saw the FIRST half of the United match, and I was one happy chap.