In contrast to my last post, the weather has turned mild and wet, rather than crisp and dry. Weekends away haven't allowed for much birding, but recent Saturdays and Sundays have almost been written off with high winds and rain dominating. Saturday the 5th was little different, although the rain held off as I walked round some marshes closer to home. A Woodcock was flushed, almost flying vertically once it had lift-off. I expect many of these birds are present in the damp woodland and scurb around the village, although seeing one has more to do with luck than anything else. A small number of Siskin were just about heard over the wind, their social calls carrying a short distance on the blow before dissipating.
Yesterday, it was a pleasure to help lead the South Yare Wildlife Group annual Winter walk round Church Marsh. Just under 30 people had booked up, so we split into 2 groups, my group initially heading away from the river and taking the track via the gun club towards the church and back round. We were off to a good start when we encountered a Barn Owl hunting the private marsh just west of the Ferry Inn. As one walker nicely put it, you can never tire of seeing these birds in their element. The marshes themselves were bleak and brown with seemingly little life, and the hoped for Bearded Tit did not materialise.
At the Landspring, a Kingfisher left its perch right on cue, and a Siskin called from the canopy of the Alder woodland. We had nice views of a pair of Teal here, and a little more distant were the usual flock of Wigeon that over winter on the small lake.
Perhaps the bird of the day was a bit of a surprise given the timing, a pristine Little Egret flying overhead, once more than scarce in these parts, but now on the increase.
At the hide, a few Gadwall and Teal dabbled in the lagoon, and as we left a Water Rail squealed, a sign that it was getting darker and the call of the pub was getting stronger. A small group managed good views of a Chiffchaff nearby, a species no doubt feeling vindicated in its decision to stay here for the winter with such mild weather in the offing.