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Showing posts from December, 2012

End of year musings and a look ahead to a bigger patch.

January and February proved a great start to the year, both down at the patch and further afield. Lesser Redpoll was finally nailed down at Surlingham, and a male Ringtail Hen Harrier should really have been the highlight of February, had it not been for the brief appearance of a Northern Bullfinch. Despite what I thought was a decent description, the Norfolk Records Committee declined to accept the record. Nonetheless, an exciting and educational bird for the patch. In The Broads, Cranes and Short-eared Owls duly obliged on numerous occasions  In keeping with the aforementioned Redpoll theme, a Coue's Arctic Redpoll was a British life bird for me at Kelling. February ended with another British lifer, a Red-breasted Goose at Felixstowe.
March heralded the return (?) of the Northern Bullfinch, although I was later alerted to similar-sounding female Eurasian birds so nailing a departure date is difficult. Elsewhere, I took in the American Wigeon at Marlingford. A second Hen Harrier …

Waxwings, Otters, and Scum.

Having missed out on some Waxwing in Surlingham, it was law of sod that Debs and I should bump into a group of 7 at Buckenham station on the 27th! Some pictures of these characterful critters below. On the marshes, the Taiga Beans were present but a little distant, so we drove round to Cantley where we enjoyed  a closer look of the Beans and White-fronts together.
That evening, I elected to take in Strumpshaw and the evening commute. Here I had smashing views of 2 Otter: one on the river and one from reception hide. Whilst watching the river-crossing Otter, the Harrier roost was building up over at Wheatfen, some birds heading across to Strumpshaw but others staying put. Amongst the 10+ Marsh Harrier was a Ringtail Hen Harrier. 3 Bearded Tit pinged as they moved through, and a Tawny Owl began to hoot. Last to go over, other than the usual Corvids, were 2 Grey Heron.

Today, I met with Ricky nice and early at Buckenham. The wind whipped into us across the open spaces, of which Buckenham…

Woodcock- new to Surlingham

After an evening of both superb food and company, I was ready to blow out the cobwebs at the patch. Bird of the morning presented itself as I left the car behind, a Woodcock blazing a trail from the churchyard into the small pine plantation. Unsurprisingly, I was unable to relocate it. When a Woodcock arrives like that, landing gear out, it almost appears as if someone has flung the bird towards its destination. What a buzz. My dad once told me of an old tradition: if a chap shot 2 Woodcock with a left and a right, and someone was there as a witness, the 'winner' gained a year's subscription to The Shooting Times and a bottle of Grouse. I would hope this has been phased out! Woodcock is my 110th bird recorded at Surlingham Church Marsh.

Continuing round the river bend, I picked out 3 Redpoll in flight. One landed, a very pale individual (never straight forward) and I was able to observe feeding and plumage from various angles. The think dark band on the undertail coverts g…

Taking up the challenge

Having decided to join in with the Patchwork Challenge fun, the boundaries of my patch have been allowed a little breathing space. Whilst I shall maintain my Surlingham Church Marsh year/life list, the other areas south of the Yare that I tend to potter around in such as Rockland, Wheatfen and Claxton will surely add some variety to my final Patchwork year list. In anticipation, I headed to Wheatfen after a quiet walk around Church Marsh early doors. Although in keeping with the lack of birds at Church Marsh earlier (a juvenile Marsh Harrier and Mistle Thrush in the churchyard the pick of the bunch) I did happen upon a mixed Thrush and Finch flock in a grazing field north of The Covey. c100 Redwing and Fieldfare were feeding on the ground along with c50 Chaffinch. I could not pick out a Brambling amongst them, instead finding a few Goldfinch. Behind me was a feeding station in a small front garden which the common Tits were enjoying. I made a note to keep an eye on this area as Winter…

Notes from the patch

Not a great deal to blog about dear reader, but at the moment it is the comings and goings I am revelling in.

For real quality, look no further than our Common Cranes. Debs and I were treated to 3, then more distantly 16, of the broadland birds a couple of weeks back. Surprisingly, these were the first Cranes she had seen in Norfolk (but reminded me of the Estonian birds that seemed a lot more friendly). Perhaps the Estonian birds are more approachable. Despite their wariness,  I do worry for our small population here in Norfolk. It will be interesting to see how many roost this Winter; will we see a flock of 40?
Also in the broads, we had a Short-eared Owl in near darkness on the way home.
I have not yet pinned one of these down on or at least closer to the patch. I have been staking out Langley Marshes for the last 3 weekends, but so far have only had the resident Barn Owls. I did catch a glimpse of a Tawny on the drive home, not an easy bird to see despite their widespread distribu…