Every Spring for the last few years around the end of March I have caught the bus to Rockland and walked back to Norwich via the Wherryman's Way. This is normally one of my first opportunities to pick up a few spring migrants, but despite being a couple of weeks later than last year James and i were not optimistic when we climbed on the bus last Friday.
The car park by Rockland Staithe often holds my first Chiffchaff of the year, the area only held a few commoner residents, Linnet, a female Blackcap and a couple of Fieldfare. Rockland Broad itself was rather quiet, a displaying pair of Great Crested Grebe and some singing Skylark at least gave the illusion of spring Walking back past the Staithe i noticed a Wood Duck, though sadly on a garden pond along with a few other ornamental ducks. Following the footpath across the fields we saw Chinese Water Deer and a pair of Brown Hare, a large flock of Linnet the only birds of note. The wood along the side of Wheatfen often holds numerous Great Spotted Woodpecker but was ominously quiet. And in the meadows nearby we found more winter Thrushes with a mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare and Starling. A nice Marsh Tit feeding in a garden close to the road didn't really lift the wintery feel.
Surlingham Church Marsh always looks good for Waders and passing wildfowl but i never seem to find any here. Today was no exception, Gadwell, Malllard, Teal, Canada Goose and Tufted Duck offer little to write about, although we did spook two more Chinese Water Deer. Taking the path past the gun club, the Little Owl were hiding out of sight, the only surprise was a group of Red-legged Partridge running around the conifers. A pair of Coal Tit were also close by.
From here the path takes you on past Bramerton and onto Whitlingham. Scanning from a high point across the marshes i found a Curlew and Green Sandpiper on a flooded pool and also 2 Stock Dove. Again woods often alive with woodpecker drumming seemed quiet and it was only when we reached the Sewage Works things 'picked up' again, firstly with an usual gathering of 84 Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatcher and a Herring Gull added to the days total. Before a Water Rail and Sparrowhawk close to Whitlingham Marsh became the last real birds of the walk as Whitlingham CP and woods were busy with people enjoying the Easter holiday and a little bit of sun. Spring must be around the corner very soon!
NB. Finally on Saturday i heard and saw my first Chiffchaff of the spring, harrah!
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