With Rose Ava Bradley finally making her arrival into the world on November 20th, time further away from home has been been hard to come by but infact, her coming has made me appreciate what is on my doorstep even more.
The original due date was the 5th, and a few folk were justifiably surprised to see me at the Minsmere Cliff Swallow twitch that day. This American vagrant had made landfall near the visitor centre with 3 Barn Swallow, and I managed to convince Debs that should anything happen, I would be back in 2 hours. I was, but need not have worried.
Having lost a week in hospital with initially poorly mum and baby, work kindly offered me another week's paternity leave which I gladly snapped up. This eased the pressure, and I have been able to grab the odd hour here and there on the patch, sometimes with baby. On the 4th of December, I elected to leave Rose with mum and headed down to The Covey at Wheatfen to watch an obliging Cattle Egret devouring worms around the feet of the mandatory cattle. This was indeed a patch lifer for me, and with 3 birds recently at Gapton this was very much on the cards. No idea who found it, but thanks! Later that day we received a visit from Moysiebirder and family, so after the expected ogling over Rose, Ben dad and I nipped out for another look at the Egret and then a dusk vigil at Langley Marshes. This was a superb evening- Hen Harrier, Grey Wagtail (2), Curlew (13; lovely to hear the true call of the wild back on the patch) Barn Owl (3) and a single White-fronted Goose over. Back at the house, at least 2 Woodcock flew by the light of the moon. Top patching!
This morning, Debs and I made use of the accessible track down to Rockland Broad (really need to think about how much of the patch is pushchair friendly now) and spent an hour walking and surveying the Wildfowl out on the broad. Best of all were 2 Goldeneye, making up records 5 and 6 on the patch after 2 early on in the year. Not far off annual, and I expect they arrived during the cold weather and have elected to stay.
I am sat on 120 for the year, 2 off equalling the record of last year. A flyover wild Swan and Short-eared Owl would do it; a Water Pipit would break it! Back to the coal face tomorrow, but with only a week until Christmas holidays, it is on.