Work, the weather and other engagements have limited my birding activities so far this year. On the 1st after a quiet New Years at Gary and Claire's, Gary and i rose early to start our Jan 1st bird race. With Gary still suffering and on crutches, Gary's dad joined us acting as stand in driver and we head towards Titchwell for first light. The first bird of the year was a Barn Owl near Morsten. The day was dull and drizzly so a good total wouldn't be easy. We picked up a few birds walking out to the beach in the near darkness, but the best birds of the day was on the beach, a group of 9 Shore Lark east of the boardwalk. We collected a lot of the usual waders, and wintering ducks on the sea and a group of Snow Bunting flew through before we returned to the main reserve. We briefly saw the Northern Harrier over Thornham Marshes, and 2 Water Pipit were of note on the fresh marsh, before we watched the feeders by the cafe, as we ate our bacon baps. Choseley was very disappointing with only a single Mistle Thrush on the wires. Stopping to look for Tree Sparrow we stumbled upon a group of 200+ Brambling, the biggest surprise of the day near Burnham Market, large numbers of Linnet were also in the area. Back on the coast we watched the 2 Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham, but missed the 2 Smew at Wells, and added Red-throated and Great Northern Diver from Salthouse beach. A brief call at Felbrigg added Goldcrest and Nuthatch, before we caught up with the Whooper/Bewick's Swan flock near Catfield. Last stop of the day was Stubb Mill, from the roost we added 5 Crane and Woodcock to the list, also hearing Kingfisher and Tawny Owl. i counted 43 Marsh Harrier, 3+ Ringtail and 1 Male Hen Harrier while at the roost and watched the 1000's of Pinkfeet returning to roost. For the full days listing see my main website.
On the 9th Laura and i visited some of the places we visited on out very first day out birdwatching, staring first at Barton Broad where i soon added Tufted Duck and Pochard to the year list. I then found drake and redhead Smew which frustrating then swam out of view, it then took a frustrating 15/20 minutes before i relocated them through a gap in the trees so Laura could see them. A Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid was also found, but no Scaup. Horsey was the next stop, while walked down the Nelson track to see the Seals a skein of White-fronted Geese flew over. There were lots of people at the seal watch point, but few birds on the beach or surrounding area. Sanderling and Turnstone about it, so i had a quick sea watch. 2 GN Diver headed east along with 2 Red-throated Diver and 2 Kittiwake. A Black-throated diver was the surprise find as it headed west. I had plans to go to the Nelson Pub and sit in front of the fire, but arriving at 12.15, 15 minutes after it opened it was standing room only! Once back home and warm, i proposed to Laura, something i wanted to do in front of the pubs roaring fire, she said yes!
Today with yet more drizzle, and not many birds about to go see, i decided against a planned trip to see the American Wigeon at Cley, instead opting for a little shopping in the City. This did give me a chance to catch up with the Waxwing on Lower Clarance Road, before heading home.
YARE VALLEY: Cantley marsh plants
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