Monday, 30 December 2013

Ending the year on the patch

A look back at some Christmas birding, and whilst there were no late additions to the year list some excellent Winter birding was enjoyed as thoughts turned to 2014.
Debs and I spent the afternoon in Surlingham on Christmas Eve, beginning at Church Marsh. 2 Curlew over doubled the patch record (!) and even treated us to a their mournful call. Also smashing the record for number seen on any one visit was the Marsh Tit, again 2 birds at either end of the reserve. I can remember when I saw my first Marshy here, and I am pleased to report they are getting easier! Expected residents were Treecreeper, Bullfinch (heard) Great-crested Grebe (2) and a hopefully-resident female Marsh Harrier.
We then moved onto Wheatfen for a walk through Surlingham Wood. Again, I heard the Nuthatch near the cottage and a few Redpoll sp and Siskin were typical winter visitors.

Yesterday I made an early start at Church Marsh, and feeling a bit rough this was my only stop in the end. Again, I had a Marsh Tit not far from the church and in fact this was the best bit of the walk, for some windfall apples were attracting Winter Thrushes in a back garden. Somewhere, I could hear one of my favourite Bird songs: A Mistle Thrush had began to sing.

Away from the patch, I spent some time at the family home near Stowmarket over Christmas and joined mum and the dog for a walk around their patch: Manor Wood and surrounding farmland. We enjoyed an excellent variety of species including 2 Treecreeper in the wood, 7 Yellowhammer, 2 Bullfinches, many Skylark (all on farmland) and a single Grey Wagtail over wintering in the farmyard. Mum also found a pair of Roe Deer antlers, fantastic specimen they are and we also enjoyed views of 2 groups of Roe, 4 and 7. Mum has a close eye on these groups and knows them individually, telling me that at this time of year they are known as 'Winter Field Deer', due to their choice of habitat. Not sure why they do this? High density in woodland forces them out and about?

So, the year draws to a stormy close and the appalling weather has slowed up my countryside pursuits somewhat. I hope to kick-start the patch list for 2014 later this week, with a brief look back to the year that was.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

And what of Surlingham?

With the utter devastation on the coast wreaked by the storm surge earlier in the week, I was anticipating some potentially harmful flooding at Surlingham Church Marsh having seen Ben's pictures of a very wet Strumpshaw. However, despite some standing water on the north of the reserve and signs that the river had overflown in one or two usual spots, the impact looked akin to that of a heavy storm so hopefully not too much saline crap has seeped into the marshes. On the reserve were 2 Kingfisher, 2 Goldcrest, 2+ Bullfinch, 1 Linnet, 3 Snipe and a few Teal.
Over at Claxton Marshes, 3 Marsh Harrier enjoyed the breeze but the real prize was across the river: 30 Taiga Bean Geese! Glad to have that zoom function on the scope.
Not much doing at Langley Dyke bar a Kestrel and 100's of Pinks somewhere up high, so I headed to some stubble and set aside near Surlingham. A flock of 100+ Linnet was notable, and Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Winter Thrushes were all recorded on similar habitat.

A few good bits in the valley of late which I thought I would collate here, none seen by myself I should add.

Cattle Egret south over Cantley.
Glossy Ibis Strumpshaw Fen
Ringtail Hen Harrier at Church Marsh
2 Waxwing Coldham Hall Carnser.

Conditions set to remain mild and settled for the next week or so, although Debs and I are away next weekend so any further birding will be during the Christmas holiday.