Friday, 3 February 2012

In Search of Winter Birds - Norfolk 2012 (Day 1)

After a fairly uneventful drive up north we arrived at Lakenheath Fen for our first birding stop of our winter trip to East Anglia. We were reliably informed that there were Short-eared Owls, Great Grey Shrike, a Hen Harrier and Common Cranes present, but as it turned out that was not to be the case. We set off from the car park and were immediately met by a team of workers from the Environment Agency, who were cutting down mature Hawthorns from the embankments...the same embankments where the Great Grey Shrike had been. We asked why they were cutting all the hawthorn down, and were told it was for health and safety reasons!!! It's a good job the Environment Agency don't own the whole country or Hawthorn would be a pretty rare plant!

Anyway we headed on around the the reserve and were immediately greeted by a pair of Whooper Swans that dropped in on The Wash.

Whooper Swan - Lakenheath Swan
The Whoopers were quite nervous at first, but they soon settled down with the resident Mute Swans on the only unfrozen patch of water on the site.

Whooper Swan - Lakenheath Fen

Further out on the reserve we were greeted with brief flight views of four Common Cranes, a few Marsh Harriers and some calling Bearded Tits, but not much else. We decided to head north in search of the reported Great Grey Shrike at Fakenham, rather than our usual stop at Welney Wildfowl and Wetland Trust Reserve. It would appear that we made the right choice as the Shrike showed very well for a while before disappearing into the nearby hedgerows.

Great Grey Shrike - Fakenham

Flushed with our success from the Shrike we headed north to Lady Anne's Drive for the expected Pink-footed Goose arrival......but they weren't there!! A winter trip to Norfolk would normally produce thousands of Pink Feet, but other than 4 White-fronted Geese and handful of Pink Feet there were none there. We waited in vain and were eventually rewarded with 9 Woodcocks, a Barn Owl. a male Hen Harrier and 3 Grey Partridges. 

It was too dark to do much more so we headed off to our cottage for a well earned rest.

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