Saturday, 27 December 2014

Winter Update

As I haven’t posted for a couple of months, I thought I should post a winter update before the New Year arrives.

As my lack of posts suggests there hasn’t really been an awful amount to report, poor weather, overtime at work and Christmas all getting in the way of any meaningful birding. In fact most of the highlights of the last few months have been chance encounters while travelling to work.
Most mornings I walk a short section of the River Wensum between Barn Road and Duke Street, and most days I spot either a Kingfisher or Grey Wagtail. In early November I started to regularly see a dog Otter in the area fishing just upstream of the sluice gates and on the 10th November 3 Otter were feeding/playing together.
On a couple of occasions (when it’s been drier) I have walked a longer route from Milecross Road to Duke Street taking in the opposite bank to Wensum Park and the ‘Railway Woods’ by Halfords. On 23rd October I was surprised to see a Mallard with 6 newly hatched ducklings in tow, 2 of which I saw again a few weeks later. As the weather finally got colder in late November I saw Fieldfare and Redwing on this extended route and on the 8th December a Firecrest was in the ‘Railway Wood’. Upto 4 Little Grebe have also started to become regular on the river. On very wet mornings I have walked a more direct route along Magdelen Street, but have still got to see the Peregrine around the Cathedral and Grey Wagtail from the bridge.
Erratic Christmas working hours have also seen me some days taking the bus to work rather than a lift, and from the upper deck of the bus I have been able to scrutinise the roadside fields. A flock of Golden Plover near Sco Ruston held a very unusual addition, an Oystercatcher that was obviously very confused. On the 13th December I also saw 4 Common Crane flying over Westwick from the bus. We have also seen a Barn Owl on a couple of occasions not far from Coltishall while driving home. The commute has also featured a few mammals as well in recent months, a Stoat at Croswright, a couple of Weasel, a handful of foxes and numerous deer. Just outside North Walsham Red Deer some weeks have been a daily occurrence, but also Munjac, Roe Deer and Chinese Water Deer have been seen, mainly from the bus while driving the winding back lanes between the villages.

Apart from a cluster of early Autumn migrants the second half of the year has been rather quite for me, a few good birds have been missed, and my normal urge to get out birding seems to waned or at least been more easily distracted. That said I have still managed to add 6 species to my Norfolk List, the highlights being the Great Knot a Breydon, Black-headed Bunting at West Runton and Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy , which due to its crippling views has to be my favourite. I also finally caught up with a Red-rumped Swallow. Further afield I have added 7 species to my British List, the 4 fore mentioned, American Coot, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Short-toed Eagle.


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