On Tuesday I caught an early bus and soon found myself at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB with the mist still hanging over the reeds. I seemed to be the first person to walk along the Lackford Run as a continual steam of spiders webs stuck to my face. The Lackford Run path was quiet with a few Blue Tit and 2 juv. Reed Warbler on the deck and above me 2 Marsh Harrier were constantly harassed by a large group of Lapwing. From Tower Hide I could see that the winter wildfowl have started to return, 100+ Teal, c30 Wigeon and a large group of Shovler frequented the main pool. The margins were also lively with 31 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Sanderling and 18 Ruff, as well as the for mentioned Lapwing. I had just counted the Snipe and found the Jack Snipe when all hell was let lose, and i soon located the culprit, a female Hobby skimming over the reed bed. I had the hide to myself so spent some time looking through the ducks and waders before heading off along the river bank. The Fen Hide held 6 people but not a single pair of binoculars, just big lenses and cameras pointing at nothing in particular so i soon left. Two Great Spotted Woodpecker sat in the dead by the path back and allowed me to get very close. Grabbing a flapjack from Reception hide I was mid-munch when a Bittern flew past the front of the hide, a few seconds later two of the photographers walked in, hard luck guys. By the feeders i watched a pair of Marsh Tit and a Goldcrest in the Yew tree before heading back towards the main road and bus home.
On Wednesday I needed to be in North Walsham late afternoon, but decided to catch an early bus and scout out a bit of my 'new patch'. Dad dropped me off on Skyton Road after we'd been to the bank and I wandered off to re-discover Felmingham Heath, which I haven't visited in over 10 years. The wet woodland edges to the south and west were full of fungi, which made up for the lack of birds. The main area of dry heath is much patchier than i remember, with large area of gorse, but it was nice to see many areas being re-opened up by habitat management. While watching a group of young Willow Warbler I caught the silhouette of a raptor, initially i thought it was a buzzard, but as it flew closer and into better light i didn't need my binoculars to see it was in fact a Goshawk, a bird i really wasn't expecting. After more fungus hunting i took the back roads and footpaths towards another area of my new patch, the quiet lanes south of Antingham. Although again few birds were about i took my time to re-familiarize myself with lanes, hedgerows and fields, nothing the different habitat, and what i might expect to see in the future. Part of this areas forms the 1km square that i plan to monitor for all species of plant, animal and insect, so i made lots of mental notes of things to look out for next year.
WHITLINGHAM: January wildfowl count
12 hours ago