Monday, 26 January 2015

Brecks Day

Sunday January 25

 A weekend visit would ensure enough birders at Lynford Arboretum near Mundford to make the chances of finding ONE Hawfinch greater. Maybe. We stayed nearly two hours, enjoying the sunshine, the lovely trees and meeting friendly birders.

A view towards the entrance gate, Cornus Mas bed in the foreground, feeding station behind fence on the right.

Winter colour of a Mahonia sp
Most of the time was spent in the avenue feeding station area, leaving no ground leaf litter unseen. After an initial search, we walked to the bridge, lingering to watch Marsh Tit, one Reed Bunting and  a myriad Blue Tits on the overhanging feeders. Several Siskin fed in the Alders edging the stream. Apart from the feeder areas, there were no birds around - to quote the warden. The conifers near the entrance are usually very reliable sites for viewing Crossbills. Not to-day.
Back to lean on the fence in the avenue, gazing at leaf litter again. The feeders were virtually empty (black mark), two Nuthatches were able to access the 2 centimetre layer of nuts in one, Marsh Tit and Bullfinches also seen nearby.
Time to move on. As a local birder said, just the one bird by the end of the week was not going to be easily found in such a vast area. Bother, I don't know of any other reliable site in Norfolk. Gone are the days of easy sightings in Holkham Park, when one could just walk in and set up a scope on several in and under,  the trees near the gates.
Another disappointment. Browns near the roundabout started off as a roadside food stall selling excellent burgers, sausages and bacon baps. Always a forbidden treat on our annual visit. Now it's gradually developed into 'Browns cafe and restaurant'. They were still doing takeaways last year. Pam went in to enquire and was told by a woman - in a very superior tone - 'not on Sundays'. Boo. Diet intact.
We haven't walked to the Methwold Washes viewpoint at Lakenheath Fen RSPB for a year or two. We usually go directly along the railway line to the centre of the reserve. Entrance is now through the Centre only, taking a very winding path (the warden told me it was shorter than the straight path from the car park !) up to the bank and the washes viewpoint. Good, there was a seat. My back was not good by now. Immediately we saw the Great White Egret silhouetted against the reeds on the other side of the river - Norfolk. We were sat in Suffolk. The bird then flew to the east of the pool, so graceful in flight, long black legs stretched out behind. A nearby Little Egret was a useful size comparison. There were 3 Great Egrets here last year. A breeding possibility, to add to the Somerset success?
Another birder had bothered to carry his scope and called a Bittern walking through the sparse end of the reeds where the Egret had been, before disappearing into the thicker area. We were very grateful for the call. A single Whooper Swan was in the same area.
Back to the Centre for a welcome hot chocolate, drunk whilst watching the feeders from the comfort of an armchair. The usual suspects plus at least 6 Reed Buntings, the largest group I've seen for many a year.
Home to find that Robbie's heat-mat isn't. Stone cold. Back to his other heat mat.
I'm not asleep! He flopped right under my chin and I was trying to do a word game!
Pam took all the photos on this page, I didn't carry either camera. Our Hamamelis Mollis (witch-hazel) is at its best at the moment, a beacon of light in a drab winter garden.

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