Monday, 25 November 2013

Great White Egret, Buckenham

An Sunday evening trip to Buckenham Marshes in hope of Raptors heading to roost yielded an unexpected Great White Egret, initially seen at 4pm over the river at Claxton/Rockland Marshes (bird of the year on the patch in terms of 'points') flying strongly across the river towards Strumpshaw before being lost to sight. Real monster in flight, size and long yellow bill leaving me in no doubt as to what I was looking at. Get in! Supporting cast of 3 Barn Owls at Claxton, Marsh Harrier at Buckenham and a superb Corvid roost by the station. And all those Wigeon for company, what a site Buckenham is.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Some changes at Surlingham

Headline news from the patch is a fond farewell to the Whaley Hide, dismantled and removed in favour of a sluice. Like other visitors I am a little sad to see the old hide go, but it was old and in many areas beyond repair. The installation of a sluice will connect the lagoon to the flow of the river, thereby increasing the biodiversity of the lagoon waters and putting an end to years of silt build up. Perhaps in time a few more Waders will look to stop here on migration, as the numbers of invertebrates increases. Exciting times. The team from Strumpshaw have also cracked on with more scrub removal, cleared ditches and uncovered a new mini lagoon between the main lagoon and the gun club. Excellent work and already I have noticed wildlife making use of their 'facilities'; today, a Treecreeper was frequenting an area of newly cut scrub that was previously obscured from view, and a count of 42 teal (2 females) was very healthy indeed.
Away from the main reserve, a skein of Pink-footed Geese flew north this morning at around 9am, 60+. This was actually a year tick for my Church Marsh list, which I just cannot see reaching the 100 before New Year. A mixed Siskin and Redpoll flock did not linger for observational purposes, but a Goldcrest in a Tit flock did! The churchyard was buzzing with Thrushes: Mistle, Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird all waiting patiently in the treetops to feed on berries below.

I then popped over to Wheatfen, and scored an unexpected patch tick. A Nuthatch was heard calling near the cottage, and the warden was on hand to inform me that a pair had been present for the last year or two. Not sure how I have missed them, but more than happy to add them to my list on a wet and windy November day. On top of this, 1/2 Brambling were seen and heard wheezing in Surlingham Wood- my first of this Winter anywhere on the patch. Love a good Brambling.

 Goodbye to the Whaley Hide
 The sluice; former position of the hide was behind the scrub to the right
 Fungi at Wheatfen. Fly Agaric I think. although someone has had more than a nibble.
Stunning Autumnal colours in Surlingham Wood, Wheatfen.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Half Term Birding

Been out of action ever since the weekend that was with Achilles Tendinitis, rather painful, but with the onset of half term and the ankle area easing up it was high time to get out and about once again.
Wheatfen was looking splendid on the 31st, so splendid in fact that the foilage shielded from view the Siskin and Redpoll I could hear. 6 Snipe were seen flying strongly southwards, and a bustling Tit flock held Long-tailed, Marsh, Great, Blue and a Goldcrest. I really thought I was into a Firecrest for a short time, and surely this is a species I will add to the wider patch list before long?
A scan over Claxton Marshes late afternoon did not produce a Short-eared Owl as I had hoped it might, but across the river I could see a group of Barnacle Geese grazing. 'Seen from the patch'= tick! I finished the day at Langley dyke, where 3 ghostly Barn Owls were hunting.

On the 1st of November, Debs, her dad and I took a walk round Bacton Woods chasing up the Parrot Crossbill reports from earlier in the week. We did see a flock of c.20 Crossbill, but no confirmed Parrots in there. We did enjoy a lovely Autumnal walk though, and over the Winter months we could easily tie this in with a visit to Ridlington Heath which looks promising after a drive through. One stubble field was brimming with Chaffinch, proper Winter birding! Pine Bunting would be nice.
We finished the day at Ludham for our first Raptor roost watch of the Winter. We only managed 2 Marsh Harriers and 1 Barn Owl so perhaps we were a little early  in the season. 2 Bats were seen circling farm buildings on the way home, a sign that the weather was mild and had not yet turned. Maybe these were the last Bats we would see this year?

Yesterday, I made an early start and grilled Happisburgh. The mist soon cleared to reveal a mild and pleasant day. My hope was that a slight shift in the winds and rain overnight may have let some birds through. Birds of the day were undoubtedly 9 Twite at the coastwatch, accompanied by lots of Meadow Pipits and 2 Reed Buntings. In fact, this was the busiest birding of the day! Despite the miles covered, and a return to the RF Bluetail site, there was little else doing. Is that it for Autumn then? With the westerlies set to persist, the expected arrival of Thrushes from the continent will have to be postponed. Perhaps mid-November and the Autumn will have a final flourish?

 Evening at  Church Marsh, a view I never tire of.
 Storm damage near the landspring at Church Marsh

 Couple of Fungi shots from Debs
Twite at Happisburgh