Monday, 17 November 2014

From doorstep to marsh and back

Rose early on Sunday morning to a dripping, damp misty morning in the village. The lanes and hedges are ablaze with colour at the moment, and Debs and I enjoyed all of this well before the rest of the village awoke. Upon leaving the front door, the first bird of the day was to be a Bullfinch, couldn't ask for a better start! At least 2 birds were calling, all I saw on this occasion was a white backside. Good to know they can be seen local though.
Continuing towards Ferry Road on foot, we encountered Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush feeding on the Rose hips adorning the scrub. Birding can and will be at times dull in the deep mid-winter, but these welcome visitors always make it bearable. Not much was moving overhead due to the thick mist, and the same was true upon arriving at Church Marsh.
A significant number of Teal were loafing about on the lagoon, and after nervously circling when we arrived, they settled again and I was able to count 107, which Ben tells me is a record count! Smashed, the previous high being 53 from 16th November 2003, incredibly the same date as my count. As well as the expected residents including Kingfisher, Cettis' Warbler and Reed Bunting, a familiar pinging sound emanated from deeper within the reed bed. Finally, Bearded Tit have returned to Church Marsh after at least a 3 year absence. Number 120 for the year.

Owls featured elusively rather than prominently this weekend. Arriving at Chris and Allison's on Saturday night, an Owl drifted through the yard which I at first thought was Tawny, although they do have a resident Barn Owl (and part time Hen Harriers and Tree Sparrows, very nice). It was nice to visit and catch up with everyone.

Back home, Debs and I both awoke in the early hours this morning to a calling Tawny Owl. I could hear another bird towards Coldham Hall, but can't recall if he came any closer as I drifted off to sleep again.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Patch update and Carlton Marshes

It has been a while since I have added a new species to the year list let alone updated the blog. The latter will have to suffice for now!
I parked up at the top of the hill, Church Marsh beneath me, Saturday the 8th on a mild November day. A Thrush fest ensued of the good kind, with Mistle, Song, Redwing and Fieldfare all bursting out of the berry bushes they had been feeding on. It is also a good time of year for Corvids too, with Jays popping on on both fat balls in our garden and in their usual spots around the reserve. Elsewhere, the WeBs count was poor, with just 20 Tealthe only Duck encountered. I wonder how saline levels are in the lagoon, post-flooding a couple of weeks ago.
Onto Rockland, and the count was restricted to GC Grebe and a Cormorant. 2 Crows gave the local Buzzard hassle over the small wood in the marsh. Interesting to note a sightings board discussion that had taken place in the hide "What a joke, cow shit everywhere", followed by "What do you expect, this is the countryside. Try Eaton Park".
Driving home, a large flock of 50+ Fieldare nervously exploded from an Oak in the village, and an evening walk round my new stomping ground Surlingham Marsh (Coldham Hall, for those who don't know where this is) produced a Woodcock after dark.

I had been meaning to explore some Waveney Valley habitat for a while, so on Sunday I ventured to Carlton Marshes. A super reserve with bags of potential. The scrape reminded me of the Argentinian Pampas, so desolate and open. Here, a Redshank and 2 Little Egret probed for food but according to the sightings board, Jack Snipe has been regular of late. Walking the full circuit (just shy of 2 hours) I encountered a pair of Stonechat, Bearded Tit, Siskin, Goldcrest, a Stoat and Chinese Water Deer. Plenty more to see here, I will be back.

I had hoped to go on to see the Lowestoft Desert Wheatear, but by the time I had finished at Carlton dusk was arriving, and I had to pick up dessert. In a way, glad I didn't go. A lovely bird from the photos, but the behaviour I have read about sounded appalling, and I really hope this wasn't so and instead Chinese Whispers. Images of a person laying across the concrete reaching out to the bird were almost laughable were they not genuinely concerning.

Some awesome Cetacean sightings over the weekend, Humpback and today Pilot Whales moving through. Fascinating and a privilege to share our waters with these beasts.