Early start this Sunday morning, with light traffic and no delays we arrived on site at around 7am with only one other car in the car park.
Stopping first at the Washland viewpoint to scan the area. Since our last visit they have added a wooden bench which is very welcome. A scan of the wash eventually locates the male Garganey tucked in along the reeds with Teal on the far Eastern edge. Bearded Tits could be heard "pinging" close by and Cetti's Warblers were calling from several spots.
A walk along the Little Ouse River towards the Northern end of the reserve produced another year tick addition when two Whooper Swans were found. The first among a small group of Mute Swans and the second flying up river to join it.
Having reached the far Northern end of the reserve we scanned the large reedbeds from the Joist Fen viewpoint. With the thick grey clouds now starting to dissolve into light cloud with hints of blue sky interspersed, it wasn't long before the Marsh Harriers were seen circling above. A one point five were seen through the bins at the same time! Two Buzzards flew in to join them and while watching these, dad called "Crane". Two birds almost certain to be one of the two pairs on the reserve flew across the reedbeds and circled back round to drop into the reeds along the edge of the tree line.
Steve the owner of the only other car in the car park when we arrived informed us that the female Fudge duck was showing well when he arrived. So the three of us slowly moved along the path to view the channel of water behind Joist Fen Viewpoint. Sure enough the fudge duck was still present! Slowly swimming up the channel with only a Coot for company.
Making our way back towards the reserve centre, we stopped off at Mere Hide. Not much activity seen from here. A single Common Snipe preening on the far bank and Brian managed a nice shot of a Marsh harrier as it flew across. A calling water Rail and a "booming" Bittern were heard but not seen.
Back at the reserve centre while grabbing a coffee and chatting to the reserve staff another visitor came in with a dead Barn Owl. He'd found it along the side of the road outside the reserve. A sad end to what had been a great mornings birding.
This is a great reserve where the staff are always friendly and welcoming and a reserve that is always looking to improve habitats for wildlife and facilities for visitors.
A Great White Egret was found just along from the reserve entrance road. It was standing in the middle of a pool of water on the other side of the Little Ouse River. So a Norfolk tick!
A stop off on route to Santon Downham, was rewarded with stunning views of a Great Grey Shrike ( my third of the year) and a real bonus came in the form of a fly over Goshawk, that drifted across the trees and path we were viewing the shrike from!
Time was now against us so we passed on Santon Downham and went in search of any newly arrived Stone Curlews on route home.
We managed to pick out a single bird and enjoyed good scope views of it before it was time to leave.