Friday, 24 January 2014

Winterwatch Delay

Thursday January 23

No lekking Black Grouse on this morning's Winterwatch on the red button, but, a pair of Golden Eagles were still in their roosting tree. We've really enjoyed the four evening broadcasts - despite the presenters - all of them irritating, silly and annoying at times. Chris Packham is the least annoying in my opinion. He's such a bright man and a talented and knowledgeable naturalist. Why do they have to do it? Bill Oddie and Kate Humble were the same.
As a result, we didn't set off until nearly 11 a.m. Nearing Thorpe Market, it started to rain very heavily and continued to do so until we reached Cley. We debated turning back for home as it looked very dark ahead, the road heavily puddled, chocolate coloured water from field drainage producing a bow-wave splashing over the car. Ever optimistic, I suggested having a go for the Wiveton Glossy Ibis so that Pam could catch up. Two are now present in the Martham area so they could be a better bet.
The drive from the Three Swallows to Wiveton Bridge where we turned round, was birdless. At least the rain eased. Nothing visible over the gates into the pooled field where I first saw the bird. I asked Pam to drive slowly on and I caught a view of the Glossy Ibis standing in water accompanied by eight Black-headed Gulls. Pam manoevred the car so that she too could see the whole bird through two layers of hedge. Lucky.
News of a Grebe in Burnham Overy harbour had come through earlier. Knowing the area, we'd dismissed going for it as it would drift away on the outgoing tide. Another message changed our minds. Twenty five minutes later, after spotting the dot from the car, I got out and used my telescope to confirm the identity of a constantly diving Red-necked Grebe. It was well on its way to the harbour mouth, along with a male Goldeneye and a second Grebe which was the same size but darker. What was it....? No way was I going to walk the seawall to get nearer, I was already frozen.

Burnham Overy Harbour. The birds were in the furthest water shown in this photo.
 Thinking that the Rough-legged Buzzard in the Holkham area was worth a try, we parked roadside in the small 'lay-by' overlooking the marsh and Gun Hill. We'd only been there a few minutes when Pam saw a Buzzard over the trees behind the farmhouse. Hm... too distant, against the light, no distinguishing features in those conditions.
Meanwhile I saw another Buzzard appearing from the Gun Hill area, then flying above the same trees as the earlier bird. There were now three Buzzards in the air. The last one looked promising. The birder in front of us, leapt out of his car, used his scope and mouthed Rough Legged Buzzard. ID confirmed of the bird I saw approach and thought it was a good un, based on jizz really. 
Where next? We'd now got blue sky and sun and the temperature had risen to 2C. A Ruddy Shelduck had been reported at Blickling Hall Lake. We'd never been there but knew that the lake could not be accessed from the house. Driving a back lane which seemed to be the right one, signs appeared confirming this. It ended in a dirt parking area. We walked through a patch of woodland and arrived at the lake shore, where lone fishermen huddled under their green umbrella shelters gazing at nothing, not even their rods lying on the bank, tips in the water. How tedious, paint drying came to mind.
Walking into the sharp wind, along an increasingly muddy path , me seeing no birds at all, Pam a group of Mallard, we soon turned back. We met a woman birder in the car park. 'It was there this morning' she said, after asking if we'd seen it. Probably up the far end. It can stay there !!
A lovely mature woodland area which we shall visit again - when it's warmer.

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