Friday, 13 January 2012

Not a Black Friday

Friday January 13
Would the Shrike still be there...? Yes it was. A Great Grey Shrike has been present near Fakenham Morrison's for some time now. Initially, it caused a bit of a commotion as it was thought to be an eastern  sub species, then a hybrid and now all that's gone quiet. Northern Great Grey Shrike it shall be.
Three returning birders  told us it had caught a mouse and flown off to eat it. It must have been a very small morsel or a hungry bird. As we arrived at the concrete pad, it appeared on top of an oak about half way back the way we'd come! Almost immediately it flew back towards us, hovered like a Kingfisher, posed in the hedge and disappeared again. Good enough for us but not photographable. Our first Skylark of the year too,
Sculthorpe on a sunny winter day is lovely.We decided to walk the loop track first, hearts descending when we saw that the 'Woodland School' area had a class in action. Apart from a few screams and yells later, all was relatively quiet though.  One bird from the Jarvis hide but then we saw Siskin, four Treecreepers, a couple of Marsh Tits ( a fleeting glimpse of one previously, looking for the non existent feeders in our garden), and the usual Goldfinches on the way to Whitley Hide.
What a pleasure to watch the regular and  frequent mixed flock feeding on the 'Grab and Go' bird table viewable near the hide. Some do perch in the shrubby tree nearby but, photographing the rapid visits is a challenge. A Water Rail darted out of the reeds, legged it across the ground under the feeding table and then fed well hidden. The unhusked black sunflowers dropped from the table, form a thick carpet, popular with the Rail, Bullfinches and a Short-tailed Field Vole which made short dashes from under the camera box.

Water Rails

A pair of Bullfinches. I never get tired of watching these beauties.

A Marsh Tit finally stayed long enough - but the sun had gone in.
There's always a chance of seeing a Little Owl from Felbrigg Hall main car park.  Unfortunately, heavy machinery was at work in our favoured bay. We snatched a quick peek whilst the driver was away, no sign of an Owl in the nesting hole nor nearby. As the driver returned, in a different machine, a flock of small finches rose into a nearby tree. We had to move rapidly, parking in another bay and I then scoped the top of the tall Oak which still held some of the birds. Beautiful Brambling. Most unexpected. I phoned it in to Birdline but the report did not appear - on my pager at any rate.
It was very difficult to ascertain an accurate number as the flock kept flying away, some returning, others dropping to the ground and back up etc. I did count 50 in the tree at once though.

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