James had told me on Thursday of a Brent Goose at Whitlingham so on Saturday morning i wrapped up warm and headed out. It was soon obvious the cold nights had finally reached Whitlingham with both Broads frozen over for the first time this winter. This forced all the birds into one quite small ice hole. Before looking through them i meet James and Shaky by the Flint Barn and also the Brent Goose, feeding on the bank of the new overflow car park area. Scanning through the ice hole birds we found 4 Goldeneye, 4 Little Grebe 6 Great Crested Grebe and lots of Tufted Duck and Pochard, but not the Redhead Smew of previous days. Scanning Thorpe Marshes which were also frozen over, c250 Teal huddled on the ice with Mallard, Gadwell and a mix of gulls. The Smew then flew along the river, circling over again before going into the ice hole. At the conservation area more ducks huddled on the ice and a Snipe flew over but little of note. Back on the south shore while looking for the Smew a single Siskin and Redpoll flew over calling. If not bristling with birds a 'patch tick' in the Brent Goose and good company made for a very pleasant morning, well worth braving the cold.
I recently moved back to North Walsham and needing a new local patch, I soon settled on a few of my old favourite sites, but they were spread around town. All are close to the old railways track beds and my new house sits at the apex of all 5 lines that once radiated out from North Walsham, these form the arteries joining everything up. My 'Birding Alone Old Lines' patch was born, revisiting the old birding sites of youth, via the Old Railway Newtworks.