Sunday, 18 January 2015

A step by step guide to a good birding weekend

Buoyed by the chance of a patch addition in the form of a Great Northern Diver, I was out on the patch early on Saturday morning scanning the river from the end of the Carnser. No sign of the Diver here or anywhere this weekend, but it was worth getting up early for a superb Otter wrestling with an Eel mid swim. Really getting to grips with these elusive neighbours for the first time since moving out here.

Back for breakfast and then a trip to see the coalman, followed by a foray to Rockland Broad.  A huge male Sparrowhawk cruised through, harassed by Gulls. I had to look twice at this brute! 2 Common Buzzard soared high above the small copse, taking advantage of the breeze and a clear day. The day early WeBs count was not very intersting, although c50 BH Gull was probably a record count although I know I could get more if I stayed until late.

This morning I awoke to a frozen village. The roads and bushes were silvery with frost, and bird activity was frantic for this time of year. Stepping out of the door, a skein of Pinks called from above, an excellent start and a patch year tick. At Church Marsh, further year ticks arrived in the shape of Linnet (a pain to get here), Little Egret, Treecreeper and singing Stock Dove. The highlight for me was shared between my first Song Thrush in song of the year, and a mixed Tit flock that held 2 Chiffchaff. Great to see these Warblers alive and well after a night of below freezing temperatures.

Back at home, the garden had also jerked into life. 2 Coal Tit, both appearing to sing, were using the feeders. I suggested to Debs we get some boxes up sharpish. We have a rather dense and dark garden in places, the Tits encouraged by the firs I would think.

That afternoon, I returned to Halvergate Marshes with the sole intention of seeing the juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard. Thankfully he was easy, perched on a fence post not that far from the road, seen nicely in flight and showing the full suite of features. There were 100's of Lapwing here, and I was tempted to stay and explore further (6 Short-eared Owls reported from near Berney today) but the patch called and back to Claxton I went.

A good evening for Raptors: 5 Marsh Harrier to roost, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Kestrel and 1 Common Buzzard. Wigeon called playfully from the river, and 2 Snipe grunted overhead. As dusk fell, my ears pricked up to the sound of Whooper Swans! I could not see them, presumed heading towards Cantley. A patch lifer and a suitable end to a great weekend in The Broads, home and away.


  1. As always: a beautifully-written and evocative account!