Saturday, 24 January 2015

In search of winter birds, Day 1 - Norfolk 2015

For only the second time this year I have escaped the confines of Hampshire and travelled to Norfolk for our annual team get together, well almost anyway. I say that because Paul, Tim, Roger and I have all made it, but Andy has deserted us and is currently swanning around in Louisiana, USA. He has emailed to say that he is thinking of us, and that despite the birding being so good over there, he wishes he was birding with us.....but we doubt that!

Our weekend began as usual with us all converging on a site near Thetford to meet Paul and Roger and then work our way gradually to Great Bircham, where we stay. It was an extremely cold start to the day with a heavy frost and the temperature ranging between - 4 and - 6.

Santon Downham
Our first stop was Santon Downham where we hoped to see and Great Grey Shrike and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Paul and Roger arrived first and had already staked out the feeders, waiting for the Lesser Spot to appear. We arrived about 15 minutes later and were quickly on to a variety of species including BramblingChaffinch, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Tit. We waited patiently for the Lesser Spot to show but it was not to be and so headed down the track next to the river in search of the shrike.

There was not much to report from the river, but a Kingfisher was a good record for us, one that we have missed in previous years. The shrike was initially proving elusive but eventually it showed itself, and when it did it performed very well.

Great Grey Shrike - Santon Downham
Great Grey Shrike - Santon Downham

Lynford Arboretum
We visit Lynford Arboretum every year as it is a good spot to see Hawfinches, but we have failed to see any over the last couple of years. Last year we did see Common and Two-barred Crossbill so our visit was worthwhile. We headed straight to the paddocks but did not see any Hawfinches. The nearby lake was frozen, except for one small bit which proved popular with the local Mute Swans, Mallards and Little Grebe and strategically placed piles of bird food proved popular with the local tits.

Little Grebe - Lynford Arboretum
Marsh Tit - Lynford Arboretum

Cockley Cley
Our next stop was Cockley Cley, a site that we had not visited before but a known site for Goshawks. February is a good month to see them displaying, and although it was late January, we thought it was worth a look as the weather was so good. We stopped here for about 30 minutes, and other than a large flock of Wood Pigeons and Stock Doves there was nothing else to report.

Our final stop of the day was Snettisham. There has been a long staying Black-necked Grebe here and that was our target bird, as it was a species we had not previously recorded on our winter trips to Norfolk. A large flock of Greylag Geese were in the fields next to the access road, and another new species for the trip.

Greylag Goose - Snettisham

The Black-necked Grebe was on the furthest pool, so we worked our way slowly along the track towards it. The tide was out and there was a fair selection of waders to work through, the most notable being Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Knot and Shelduck. A large movement Fieldfares kept us entertained; we estimated a few hundred passing us but noted that over 4000 had been recorded passing through in the morning.

There were an interesting selection of birds on the pools, a cracking drake Goldeneye, a couple of Egyptian Geese, Red-brested Merganser, a Sanderling and of course the Black-necked Grebe.

Drake Goldeneye - Snettisham

We were just about to head off to our accommodation when we heard the classic 'oink' call of Pink-footed Geese. Thousands of geese were passing overhead heading out to sea to roost, it was a spectacular end to an excellent days birding.

Pink-footed Geese - Snettisham
Pink-footed Geese - Snettisham

We ended the day on 73 species of bird, so not a bad start but nothing spectacular. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...