Friday February 15
Had a good day yesterday, bird-wise, at Thetford. Not good walk-wise ! Our instructions said : 'Park at Riverside car park, cross metal bridge, look for Black-bellied Dipper (continental race of ours, lacking the chestnut band between dark belly and white chest) is between two wooden bridges'. There was the car park and a metal footbridge. A young man said we were in the right direction but it was a long way. About a mile later, another said, we'd see some parked cars (!!) across the river and it was between the wooden bridges. We walked on past the metal footbridge and the parked cars the other side. Where now? No one to ask so we continued along a very muddy and rough footpath. No sign of a wooden bridge, just a stone one so we turned back. I added Nuthatch and Marsh Tit to my month list in this lovely, tranquil, wooded
area either side of the flood swollen Thet. Parts of the river were a raging torrent.. The whole walk was lovely, a new part of Norfolk for us.
As we reached the parked cars, four birders crossed the bridge, straight across and up a muddy track. We followed. Made our slow way through ankle deep, foot-sucking mud to a narrow, overgrown rivulet tributary and there was the Dipper feeding on the muddy bank, often from the shore, dipping its head neck-deep into the water to feed. Lovely. Hardly time to set up scope before it flew upstream. I was really hoping for one good photograph after seeing the excellent ones on Surfbirds and Penny's Blog.
Too weary to follow. so set off on the long walk back to the town. The town in sight, crossing a little bridge, the postie, pushing his bike, stopped me to ask if I'd seen the Otter. Hm. He then regaled me enthusiastically with stories of his sightings. When you're getting on and grey-haired all sorts of people talk to you I've discovered. Non-threatening.
By now Pam had sat on a bench. I joined her and two Treecreepers flew into the tree in front of us. Pam was carrying my camera so a shot was impossible. The bag was zipped and her under fleece threaded through the strap.
We'd been idly watching three camera-toting people doing a bent-kneed walk along along the river bank. A brief glimpse of an Otter head set Pam charging (!) off. I followed, after divesting myself of my scope, in time to see the Otter swim under the bridge and out of sight. Would have missed the Otter if we'd parked in the other park.
A red-headed woman turned out to work at the BTO centre 'The Nunnery' which we'd passed earlier. Otters had been present since they moved in, in 1991. They breed every two years and the apparently fearless ones being seen regularly along this stretch and as far as the town centre are the cubs from 2011. A dog Otter is occasionally seen. Again, some fantastic photos on Surfbirds.
Shame I hurt so much to-day. First mistake was carrying my scope on my back and my big camera and lens in a bag stretched across my shoulders. Very quickly, I got a stitch type pain in my right lumbar region. I did give in and let Pam carry the camera, about which I always feel bad. Firstly because it was my choice to carry it and, secondly because it isn't instantly available for me to use !! Haven't had this sciatica problem for over a year. Must be more careful.
We thoought we'd have lunch overlooking Lynford Arboretum Paddocks area. Arriving at the track entrance we found a notice saying 'Only authorised vehicles allowed'. When did that happen? I didn't fancy walking from the Arboretum car park, neither of us did. Back to Santon Downham lunch and home.
Great day out though.