Sunday, 28 December 2014

Stubb Mill Raptor roost and stuff on the patch

Roost watches on the patch proving fruitless in terms of the scarcer stuff right now. Been at it in the late afternoon pretty solidly since the 20th, spending time all over the patch. Most Marsh Harrier were c7 going to roost at Stumpshaw, seen from Wheatfen. There were also around 1000 Starling here, swirling around in a cloud before dropping off into the reedbed. Rather worryingly, the only Barn Owl I have seen was at Claxton Marshes on the 23rd. Swathes of Wigeon and Lapwing on and around the river here as usual, a wonderful sight and sound.

Bullfinch have been a real flavour of the month, picked up by their mournful calls and often found feeding high up in the trees. Maximum only a pair though.

So, on Boxing Day Debs and I ventured a little further afield to Hickling Broad and the Raptor roost at Stubb Mill. I haven't visited for a couple of years and Debs it transpired never has, so a perfect place to spend the afternoon. I would estimate we had around 40 Marsh Harrier, and then 2 Kestrel, 22 Crane and 2 Whooper Swan. Brambling heard wheezing.The Cranes of course the highlight, an absolute delight to see and hear. The 'new' track takes you back to the carpark via the marsh edge, and so we were treated to more sightings and bugling calls of the Cranes. A fabulous site and we agreed to spend more time here in the Spring. Being totally honest- a little disappointed not to see a Hen Harrier and/or Merlin (someone called a ringtail but it was just a young Marsh Harrier) and whilst we were probably a little unlucky with respect to the former, this Winter has been rather ordinary and both Owls and Harriers are thin on the ground.

Off out to Ludham in a bit, perhaps we will get lucky there.

Track through Surlingham Wood, Wheatfen
View across to Hickling Broad and Marshes

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Into the final knockings

I rose before the sun today and enjoyed a crisp morning and a walk around Surlingham Marsh. I encountered a Muntjac Deer on the Carnser, perhaps foraging away from frozen areas like the numerous Thrushes on the ground. I then heard 1 if not 2 Bullfinch, and for a change the pair were easy to see amongst the dead wood and pale sky. Stunning birds and lovely to have them so local. A female Marsh Harrier was hunting over Heron's Marsh, and she or another bird flew close by overhead as I made my way round. There was little else out and about bar a Chinese Water Deer and a nice mixed Tit flock containing Marsh and Coal. It was a gorgeous morning though.

Returning home briefly for a much needed bacon butty, I then went east to Rockland Broad. The small dyke that held a Grey Wagtail last Winter appears to have been dredged, much to the interest of the local Finches and Tits. Still no Brambling though. The broad itself held Tufted Duck, Coot, LBB, Common and Black Headed Gull. More Bullfinch called from the scrub. 2 Chinese Water Deer grazed on the meadow. 

I gave Claxton Marshes a go this evening, ending the day with 2 each of Kestrel and Barn Owl. 4 Chinese Water Deer were here. Darkness had moreorless engulfed the marsh, but I popped to Church Marsh to check the depth gauge and heard both Snipe and Chinese Water Deer. That makes a total of 8 today, on the increase I would suggest and potentially damaging, as nice as they are to see.

Not long until the year list comes to an end, and begins again anew. Still time to add a tick or two to the patch list, hoping for Short-eared Owl (seen the wrong side of last Christmas) or a Whooper/Bewicks.