Sunday, 10 February 2013

Rough-Legged Buzzard, Norfolk birding trip

Met Brian at 6.30 this morning undecided on where to spend the day birding. A few birds and sites were mentioned the night before, Leach's Storm Petrel at Brogborough Lake being high on the list. But with the forecast saying mist and fog for much of the morning  in Bedfordshire, we decide to head for Norfolk. A wise move as it turns out as the Petrel hadn't stayed overnight.

The trip started on a high when we spot a group of swans in a field at Hale Fen. A quick scan reveals that they are all Whoopers. 
The drive along the A10 produces a Barn Owl, in exactly the same area as the bird seen on the 1st January. It's perched on a fence post right by the roadside.
On to Wolferton and after a couple of drives round the triangle two male Golden Pheasants are seen feeding on the grass verge. A passing car pushes them back into the vegetation and out of sight.
A short wait and a single male bird reappears and starts to feed again. 

Not a bad start to the day, Thirty Whooper Swans a stunning Barn Owl and two male Golden Pheasants and it's only 8.30am.

On to Holme Dunes hoping for a sighting of the two Shore Larks reported the previous day. Skylarks are everywhere here, and with the sun breaking through the clouds and the Skylarks in display flights all around us it's turning into a cracking morning. 
No sign of the Shore Larks or any Snow Bunting. A flock of twenty plus Linnet are seen and five Twite seen feeding near the edge of a small pool of water is a welcome addition to the year list. There's also a single Knot seen feeding here. Along with plenty of Black-headed Gulls.

On the walk back towards the car I take the lower path and wait for dad and Brian to come over the ridge. No sign of them so over the ridge I go to find them. Big mistake as after walking round the dunes Brian shouts out to me "Short-eared Owl". If I had stayed where I was I would of had cracking views of it. But it's dropped down out of sight before I reach them.

Black-headed Gull

Time for a coffee and a bite to eat, so it's off to Titchwell. At the feeders by the reserve centre there's plenty of activity, with double figures of Brambling and two Water Rails on show.
Heading up along the path a Bittern flies up from the reeds close by and gives stunning views before it drops back down a short distance away and out of sight.
Having been told about a Long-tailed Duck on one of the pools showing well, we reach the spot only to be told it's flown towards the sea.
At the beach there's plenty of birds on show. Sanderling, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, and numerous gulls are feeding along the shoreline. On the sea Goldeneye are present in good numbers along with a few Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers and the Long-tailed Duck is also found. Brian spots a diver close in among a group of gulls, and it's another year tick when it's confirmed as a Black-throated Diver.
The walk back produces a Spotted Redshank feeding close by and several Snipe and Ruff are feeding on the pools.

On the drive toward Salthouse we stop off at Burnham Overy. I'm scanning the trees to the East, when Brian calls "Rough-Legged". I manage to swing the scope round and get on it surprising quickly for once. Once on the bird it gives cracking views as it circles round in the clear blue skies, and I manage to stay on it for at least fifteen minutes before it flies low and away and out of view.
Most of the people present managed to get views of it after Brian had pointed them in the right direction.  Three Red Kites in the air together and two Marsh harriers quartering the fields were an added bonus.

Last stop is to Salthouse hoping to see some Snow Bunting. Arriving at the car park we find twelve birds feeding a short distance away. A dog walker puts them up and they land on the shingle ridge before flying down onto the small grass bank in the car park. A quick coffee from the van in the car park while being entertained by  forty plus Turnstones feeding among the shingle.

Snow Bunting

On the way home we drop in at Sculthorpe Moor. It''s too late to take a walk round as the reserve is closing but we get some info for the next trip.
A Barn owl flying across the road in front of us and into the nearby field is a nice end to a great days birding.

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