Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Brambling Day

Friday February 1 (written on the 2nd)

Not out until 7.30 which gave the birds - and us - time to become active before we left home. A grey sky produced some rain between Harpley and Abbey Farm. Until we passed the hearse and its following limo, doing a steady 40mph , we'd been dead slow for half an hour before the rain. Pam called it statutory corpse speed. Quite a build up of traffic behind at this time of day.The first of three Barn Owls in the Fakenham area.
Our first Tree Sparrows at the cottages, more further along the road and another group at Flitcham.   Brambling accompanied the Tree Sparrows and Goldfinches.
Avoiding the ivy clad tree which had fallen partially into the lane, Abbey Farm added Greylag and a pasture dotted with a hundred Fieldfare and a few Redwing. Where have the Little Owls gone? They only appear sporadically in the logbook for January. Plenty of Grey Partridges to-day.
When we stopped for petrol, I overheard two men discussing why one had bought eggs. Breakfast for the boys as it was 'Cock Day' - the last shooting day of male Pheasants I assume.
Hopefully around Wolferton triangle........nothing.......
P C keeps talking about Sandringham bird table where she sees Nuthatch, Marsh Tits etc, we'll find it one day but no luck to-day.
An hour past high tide at Snettisham but plenty of water still in. All the expected waders and ducks, nothing startling. Always a pleasure though.
Fulmar are cruising Hunstanton Cliffs at the moment, we didn't have to stop long in the now sunny and warm -9C - mid morning.
Yet another inappropriately modern, sore thumb house,  being shoe-horned in along Holme NOA entrance track. I wish someone would spend some money on the road, it's impossible to avoid the deep and numerous potholes let alone the crunching road humps. 
Apart from a couple of reed Buntings not a lot to report until we sat in the Broadwater Hide. Five Marsh Harriers circled lazily over the far reeds, one of them a handsome male. Broadwater held more water than I've seen before.
Lunch at Thornham before walking at Titchwell. The 'Fishermen's Car park' was empty, we parked there as usual. A volunteer RSPB helper we hadn't seen before, proceeded to tell us that we might be blocked in by a fisherman's car !! I told him that we'd been parking there for 30 years........didn't add that we'd never been blocked in though as he was very pleasant.
Patsy's Pool along Fen Trail turned up trumps. The female Red-crested Pochard which was our target bird, was fast asleep tucked into the far reeds. I'd seen her lift her head once, but apparently Pam had seen it swimming with the Coots whilst I was setting up scope. 

Spot the bird
Lovely warm sunshine and a panoramic view so we sat a while. Pam called Bittern. I stopped trying to digiscope in time to see a caramel coloured bird fly strongly across the reedbed before dropping. Excellent.
The pool on the left of the path before Island Hide was a sea of mud, the farmer had decided to drain it, no-one knows why. Therefore, it was studded with waders, we added Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit to the day list.
Sleeping Snipe beside a marsh pool, five more amongst the stones and broken brick on a Freshwater pool island.. Others had seen a female Long-tailed Duck on a marsh pool which had disappeared by their return journey. A few Avocets, Pochard and a single Goldeneye amongst the Brents and Golden Plovers, two more Marsh Harriers and two reed Buntings.
We met Bren on the way back, she'd been at Choseley Barns, sounded good.
No views of Siskin and Redpoll to-day, half a dozen Brambling coming down to feed on the bird  table area. Our car wasn't blocked in.
As we arrived at Choseley, a woman and a black dog walked through the yard. How lovely. We decided to give it a few minutes in hope. Ten minutes later, at least 30 dazzling Yellowhammers and 20+ Brambling gradually returned to the sparse clumps of hedge. We tried hard but no Corn Bunting appeared. We left as the dog walker returned and re-traced her path through the yard.
A couple of fairly fruitless stops only as the sun was setting fast. A perched raptor swerved us into a layby overlooking Holkham Marshes. In the same tree as we'd seen one two years ago, sat a Buzzard sp. I ducked so that Pam could see it and it flew.. she said she had the impression of a pale tail as it took off, I didn't see it well enough but it was a very pale breasted bird. Was it a Rough-legged? A pale Buzzard was reported a few weeks ago.
 Beach Road, Wells added a gate-post sitting Sparrowhawk which arrowed away at our approach. It was dusk when we parked at the end of Cley Beach Road and ticked off the putative Pale-Bellied Brent feeding with another 40 dark-bellied. 
Contented and happy, home for chores and a welcome hot drink. I saw 82 species, two of which Pam missed, she saw two which I missed. I regret not seeing the Woodcock which flew across the car........

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