Sunday, 22 February 2015

Another patch lifer followed by Raptor fest

Ricky was able to join me for the afternoon of the 21st, and I was hoping he would bring some of his good luck with him after finding a Merlin on his patch at Thorpe earlier in the week. I'l be honest- the circuit around Church Marsh felt a little lifeless indeed mundane as we approached the river bend behind the hide. Ricky had certainly bought that luck of the Cleverley, for on the river was a female Scaup! Initially I thought I was looking at a female Tufted with large white flash at the bill base, but a closer inspection through the bins revealed a clearly larger Duck with a longer looking head and larger bill. We watched the bird for around 10 minutes before she dived, and oddly that was the last we saw of her. Scaup can dive and will hunt for food underwater but I cannot believe she did not surface in the 7 or so minutes we waited. Perhaps the Scaup surfaced round the river bend. Whatever the case, this will go down as a highlight of the year when I look back and I was pleased that we were able to properly grill this bird in case of a Lesser mis-ID! I took an awful record shot with my awful camera, I'll include it here for the sake of completeness.

A few teal were on the lagoon, and the bright conditions encouraged 2 Buzzard and 1 Kestrel into the sky to soar and latterly hunt. This boded well for our visit to Waveney Forest later on. Before we left, we explored a little off piste hoping to add to the Wildfowl count. We were delighted to flush a Woodcock, which took off, veered toward us before bombing past into the nearby woodland. Classic view of a cryptic species. 

We arrived at the mound in Waveney Forest mid-afternoon, narrowly missing a female Hen Harrier as we were just setting up. This was not to be a setback, for everywhere we looked we could see Raptors. At least 7 Short-eared Owl were on the wing, tussling with Kestrels, Crows and even each other. Some of this played out close enough that we could hear the grunts and squeaks of the Owls. Superb! A Rough-legged Buzzard was present, along with 2 Commons. 3 Barn Owl hunted, one carried food almost within touching distance of the assembled birders. Ricky spotted a Kingfisher whizzing along a dyke, and a Chinese Water Deer fed nearby. As we began to lose the light, Marsh Harriers became more obvious and Short-eared Owl activity dropped off slightly. What a superb area for Raptors this is, one can only guess how many in total use these marshes over Winter.

Having stopped off to grab dinner for myself, I called in at the patch as darkness fell. A c3000 strong Corvid roost left Claxton for Buckenham, 2 Barn Owls hunted and 10 Golden Plover breezed through, marking the third patch year tick of the day. Norfolk and the patch on fine form! 

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