Sunday, 23 February 2014

A day trip to Norfolk


Eleanor visited Harrington Airfield this morning and again saw a female Merlin, two Red Kites and at least 12 Bramblings.

In the meantime I visited Norfolk with a small crew.  It seemed that no matter where you were today the wind was very strong and sometimes made birding difficult.  A probing Woodcock on a roadside verge near Wolferton was a little unexpected.

Our first venue was mature conifer plantations near to Holt Country Park, a site that is currently attracting a flock of Parrot Crossbills. Initially we saw a splendid adult male, and then up to five, which then grew to nine, then eleven and finally fifteen or sixteen birds. At least two Common Crossbills were present in the trees too. Unfortunately the windy conditions prevented a close approach and no decent images are available.  A couple of Woodlarks were a pleasant surprise.

By noon we had finally arrived at the sea and saw the first of several large flocks of Brent Geese.  A flighty Richard's Pipit showed in flight at Granborough Hill, Salthouse.  A walk around Stiffkey Fen and scanning in to Blakeney Harbour produced some extra birds in the shape of many common waders which included both species of godwit and a decent flock of Avocet.  Plenty of wildfowl included Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck and a calling Mediterranean Gull graced the freshwater pools there.  Six Great Northern Divers were fishing the shallows in the harbour mouth and a slow-flying Sparrowhawk attempted to catch waders in the creeks of the saltmarsh.

Our last venue was Holkham Freshmarsh which normally at this time of the year hosts vasts numbers of geese, particularly Pinkfeet. However, the huge skeins of Pink-footed were absent, presumably due to the very mild conditions.  Small numbers of Pinkfeet associated with good numbers of White-fronted Geese and Egyptian, Canada, Brent and Greylag were dotted about in twos or small flocks.  We failed to connect with the rather elusive Rough-legged Buzzard which is currently in residence, the three Common Buzzards, six or so Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine were the best we could do!


Neil M


Dark-bellied Brent Geese

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