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An excellent few days on the patch

I made an early start sunday morning at Church Marsh, and whilst I fundamentally enjoy being outside, I did have a goal in mind: to catch up with at least part of the national influx of Ring Ouzel. The influx had been until Saturday the 18th predominantly coastal, but inland East Anglian birds reported from Ipswich, Long Melford and UEA provided some hope. Heading down towards the river, I scanned to the right over Wood's End marshes. Had I of been 5 seconds later, I would not have seen the stunning male Ring Ouzel, perched atop a riverside bush for a few seconds before going to ground in a dyke further away. Almost perfect- the timing, the bird, the patch! I quickly tweeted the news incase anyone else was in the area and keen for a look. Sadly this bird was not seen again, despite a search later in the evening. Hopefully he will now be in one of the mountain strongholds further north. Ring Ouzel has been reported before from Surlingham, infact the Church Marsh side of the river and at Wheatfen, but infrequently so this is a great addition to the patch list.

The rest of the morning was almost as rewarding, adding new species to the year list (Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, all obvious Hirundines) and checking in with 44 species. Well deserved glass of wine Sunday night followed.

I awoke sometime early Monday morning to the usual Blackbird song at around 5am, but before returning to slumber I caught the edge of another call on the wind, and then clearer; the boom of a Bittern! Although unlikely to be a Surlingham bird, this was probably a male across the river at Strumpshaw making himself known. Believe it or not, a patch tick for me- I have never caught up with a wintering bird and having spent little time around Coldham Hall Marshes until moving nearby this until now has been the one that got away. I feel very honoured to be able to hear this bird from my own bed, a true survivor in the reeds.

On Monday evening following the report of 3 Arctic Tern at Rockland, Debs and I headed there after dinner. The light was beautiful but certainly made Tern ID more tricky than usual. After some study and discussion we agreed there were at least 2 Arctic and 3 Common, both year ticks of course and the Arctic not the easiest bird in the valley but clearly annual at Rockland. Right place, right time! We walked home with a hunting Barn Owl for company along the Wherryman's Way.

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