Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Dither

Tuesday March 13
Making the decision not to go to Olley's farm on Sunday was a big mistake. Sunday was warm and sunny, ideal Goshawk display conditions - as was promised for Mon-Weds. Up early on Tuesday, packed for a day out, we set off in grey overcast and misty drizzle. Hoping it was coastal, we set off for North improvement. Silly to go on......Olley's Farm is a good mile's walk through coniferous forest alongside an army firing range, with no shelter when you arrive at the clearing. Maybe Titchwell? We didn't abort until Felbrigg, dithering about where to go. We turned round and drove to:
Buckenham Marsh
We both love the place. At first glance it was birdless to-day - as it can often appear to be in the late winter/spring when the greater proportion of the ducks, Golden  Plover, grey geese and Lapwing have started their journey to their bereeding grounds. I found three Taiga Bean Geese near the railway lane, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Mill pool and a few Redshanks and Oystercatchers with a single Ruff on the flooded area of marsh. I looked hard for a Garganey.
Notable was the first railway crossing keeper ever to refuse a Worthers!
When we first moved to Norfolk, we spent an exhausting day clearing brush and non native trees here, before it was open to the public - and the warden was a really grumpy, unsociable man! It's cahnged immensely since then. One has to visit the Centre Hide to get a permit, we sat for a while, seeing Tufted Duck and Wigeon, before setting off on the Woodland Trail. Temporarily distracted by a soft tapping - the warden had told us there had been a Nuthatch around - we found a Blue Tit pecking the surrounds of a nestbox entry hole. Why ?
We then met someone we know well by sight who always greets us very pleasantly. He'd been photographing Treecreepers 'by the seat' on the Woodland Trail. Pam wanted to see one, but gave up trying to find the right place along the streamside section  Woodland Trail.
The end section of the Fen Trail was closed due to muddy conditions, we only intended walking to Fen Hide anyway.
There we sat for an hour watching carefully - for not a lot. I'd been hoping for a Bittern, neither sight nor sound. A garrulous woman photographer talking to (at) someone she knew from her camera club, said that the Peregrines seen at Buckenham were the ones nesting on Norwich Cathedral. The young female and older male have been seen copulating this year and may breed successfully. The Hawk and Owl Trust are setting up a viewing marquee - at a price of course.
On the point of leaving, I saw a distant raptor making strange shapes. A sky dancing male Marsh Harrier. Our first ever views of their full display flight, delightful. This encouraged a female to join him and they then performed a mutual swoop and glide flight. Not a patch on his individual effort.
Pam needed a short rest on the arm of the seat where the Fen and Woodland trails meet. Immediately, a Treecreeper showed on dead tree stumps on the meadow side.

It then flew off into the wood behind us, with a beak full of spider's web. When I looked at my photos last night (I'm writing this on Weds), Pam noticed that I'd got one of the bird pulling at the web. The photo is already heavily cropped but here goes.

Fungi is fascinating. We know very little but are learning.
Pam noticed this one which looks like part of a cat's anatomy.

Daldinia Concentrica
And a dead stump was covered in a bracket fungus species.

The Centre Hide has a drinks machine, we'd got cold sitting in Fen Hide with all the hatches open, they're wooden so one has no choice. We sat whilst drinking our hot - supposedly - chocolate, which tasted like muddy water ! Lucky we did. A pair of Great Crested Grebes have built a nest platform on a small raised patch near the island. Whilst we watched, a pair appeared. She sat on the nest, lowered herself into a submissive posture, neck extended towards the water whilst the male brought several lumps of weed, adding it to the nest. She was still waiting patiently....

He then mounted her for a few seconds

Jumped off and displayed, what a clever boy!

He was very pleased with himself.

She seemed quite happy too.

They were back-lit. Not photographed in sepia!

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