Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Ollie's Farm

March 9
In the car park before 9 a.m. It was full ! Very badly parked cars, three taking up the space for 4/5. As we were trying to work out whether or not we could park on the verge without dropping into a hole or running over a sapling, a birder returned and we were able to take his space.
The 25-30 minute walk to the vantage point was a pleasure to-day. The sun was shining from a cloudless sky and it felt spring-like  - despite leaving home in -3C with heavily frosted windows and countryside.
To our surprise, there were already 8 people there, scopes at the ready. We were joined by 20 others within the next hour, we've never seen as many birders there before. Neither have we had to wait so long for any raptors at all, the Geesons, JP and the Honda man said the same.  On such an ideal flying day too. Three Woodlarks gave us some entertainment, sporadically rising from the now very tall broom and conifers between us and the distant bank of trees. They sang well but were very difficult to see as they rose high into the sky.
During the two and a half hours we waited, a Red-tailed Hawk idled through in the distance, two Sparrowhawks did the same rather more rapidly. The Hawk is one of three in the Breckland region, they never meet up though. Two separate flocks of Crossbills flew through over our heads, alerting us with their calls. Not exactly crippling views! The same goes for the Siskins.
Eventually we were rewarded for our patience - a male Goshawk appeared briefly above the bank of trees before bombing what turned out to be a very large female. He soon disappeared but she showed for at least fifteen minutes. Doing a spiralling display flight, landing in the top of a tree so that we could admire her very pale front and impressive size before taking off again. The white undertail coverts showed really well in flight, appearing to meet above, making her look like a Ringtail. I read in a book that they fluff them up when they're displaying.
It was a contented group that packed up and wandered back to their cars.
Halfway back I saw two people coming the other way and said to Pam 'that looks like Bridget and Aileen'. It was ! They'd already had a good morning in the Santon Downham area, seeing Mandarins and a Kingfisher on the river along with some nice woodland birds.
Debating what to do in order to make the most of the last lovely day before another predicted cold spell, we  had a quick look at the Paddocks at Lyndford before lunching at St Helens, near the church, admiring a male Bullfinch.
Our riverside walk was curtailed by JP and, other birders from the Goshawk site, telling us that the Mandarins had gone and they'd seen little else.

Riverside view at Santon Downham
A lovely day. Hope A and B saw a Goshawk, it was their first visit to the site.

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