A visit from 2 friends yesterday meant a proper good grilling of Yare Valley sites either side of the river, and resulted in the best day in the field so far this year.
We began mid-morning at Strumpshaw Fen, which was just coming to life in terms of visitors. The main action was around the centre, for we did not have to wait long until a female Brambling flew down onto the feeders. She was joined by the common Tits including Marsh and Coal. A Nuthatch called from the large Oak behind the offices. The main part of the reserve was quiet, but we did take a stroll round to the Tower Hide. Around 10 Snipe probed the mud on the far bank and the odd Marsh Harrier sauntered through.
We continued onto Cantley Marshes hoping to view the Geese. I was more than a little surprised to find an absence of White-fronts, Pinks and Beans. Perhaps the Beans have left us by now, but where were the rest? We were however treated to cracking views of 2 Peregrine Falcons, in flight and then on the ground together. What a bird! A few Ruff were on the meadow nearby along with some Redwing and Fieldfare.
Buckenham the obvious next stop, still no Geese here bar the feral Greylags and a few Canadas. Mash Harriers were seen well, and I was pleased to spot 5 Pintail on the far lagoon. Not common here, I don't think? On the river, one of the stars of the day, an Otter! He stopped swimming to check us out, before disappearing into the reeds with a fish. We waited, and after around 5 minutes his head popped up again further downstream.
Rough-legged Buzzard/s have been showing well all Winter at Haddiscoe Island, so we crossed the river and headed to Waveney Forest. On arriving at the mound, a Rough-leg was seen in flight before landing. The zoom on my new scope really coming into its own here! Barn Owls were out and about by now, at least 4 in the area. Kestrel and Marsh Harrier made up the rest of the raptors.
Unlucky not to pick up a Short-eared Owl but with time on our side, we chanced Claxton Marshes. We did not have to wait long for not one, but two Shorties to show themselves. A real moment for me was hearing the wheezy alarm call when the 2 Owls came together. I have only ever heard this sound on a very old nature documentary, so to hear it 'live' bought back some memories of childhood, early mornings spent watching nature programmes mum had recorded for me.
Finally, a Woodcock flew over and a flock of Linnets went to roost. A cracking day showing off the diversity of Broadland wildlife.