Sunday, 8 December 2013
Thanks to Jane's tweet I headed straight off to park just before Covehithe Church and eventually found a space after someone had rather rudely nicked the space I intended reversing into! I eventually parked next to PJ's car. I walked down to the Broad and could see a lot of water had drained out, I could also see a winter- plumaged Black- tailed Godwit and Paul & Jane on the beach and on a small channel of water, I could see the excellent female Long- tailed Duck. She had a dark blackish back and cap blackish spot on the ear coverts, a blue grey bill and brownish eye with black pupil. Otherwise the plumage was a pale white colour. It was really good to spend some time with this bird, this species had been distinctly scarce during the last few years, the one that flew past and north at Ness Point last year was my first for several years. This individual is the first chance I have had to photograph this species. She spent a lot of her time swimming around a wiry junk piece sticking out of the water, Jane jokingly said Carl had tied the bird to it. It appeared he head because the LT Duck spent a lot of time here, always swimming round it in an anti- clockwise direction. Initially she didn't dive very much, but when she did using fieldcraft, I was able to get in position by the last ridge. She spent time swimming to the right of us in a channel to the sea and then back by the junk and then finally when OFB arrived even closer and just left of us. As we watched some 4 Sanderling wandered up the broad edge towards us giving great views and photographic opportunities before the lead one no doubt seeing us checked its progress, turned and ran back and out of sight. The Long- tailed Duck showed really well until the wind blew my Scilly cap off and the female Long- tailed Duck flew short way left (note to self on a windy day in winter where a woolly hat!), first mingling with Mallards before swimming back again. We left as Danny P and family arrived with their digiscoping equipment. In the afternoon, I had a quick look with Jenny at Corton Woods, I heard the Firecrest call and another Crest answer it nearby, but in the 5 minutes I was allowed there I couldn't see either bird.
Ignoring the urge to recommend some excellent Physio's at the Paget (see end of last message), I drove over on Saturday 7th December to Fritton woods (I received another text informing me Peter N had just found another!) and had a very pleasant walk to the mound where I met Chris M, Peter N & OFB. OFB kindly put his scope on both birds, 2 excellent Rough- legged Buzzards, one on a gatepost in front of a mill and the other left of that and between that and a disused mill with no sails. They both looked well marked birds and when one flew left it showed a clear dark brown belly patch white tail except the terminal black tail band. This bird then settled on gate. The other bird also flew left and perched in a field, after it did some hovering, wonderful to see. Both birds had very pale whitish heads. Whilst we were there, a skein of 200 Pink- footed Geese flew over calling and over and onto the marsh and Peter N spotted a Peregine perched on an isolated wooden post in a field. Both birds were on view until first Paul and then Jane F arrived and one of the birds had gone! We left Paul & Jane to search for both Rough- legs, which they eventually saw perched on 1 gate, it must have been a marvellous sight! As we walked away, I heard the "chip chip" calls and looking up I saw a wonderful flock of around 20 Crossbills flying over us and they appeared to settle in the tops of the tall pines 200 metres ahead of us along the track back, but as we walked past we couldn't relocate them..
Whilst out checking the storm damage from Gunton Cliffs, on Saturday 7th December, where I could see a significant amount of seawater deposited on the Dunes between the beach and Warren House wood, I received a tweet from Chris M saying he had a Rough- leg from the hump at Fritton woods (sounds painful!).
Thursday, 5 December 2013
This evening up to 10.10pm, I witnessed the storm surge at first hand parking at the top of Gunton Cliff, I was amazed but not surprised to see people driving down Links Hill and parking in the car park and walking onto the sea wall with 30 foot waves crashing over the top of the sea wall, surely the height of folly. People's cars were constantly being driven down to the car park (up to 30 at one time were parked at the far eastern seaward end) with an average of 20 cars on the car park at any onetime. I have never seen the area so busy, coupled with the more sensible observer parking on Gunton Cliff (around 10) and the very top of Link's road (about 5). Walking down Links Hill, I found water had seawater had flooded Links Road up to the entrance to the car park and being 6 inches deep. The beach just north of here was completely flooded with water seeping to the eastern fringes of Warren House Wood, there were islands of higher parts of the beach & Marram grass still visible but the bulk of the beach appeared underwater.
On Tuesday 3rd December, picking up Jenny from Norwich airport a bad accident forced on the road leading to Hellesdon Library and a fine looking Fox crossed the road from left to right at 9.40pm and trotted along the expanse of a new car/ used car forecourt.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Being offered an early 7.10am lift on Saturday 30th November, with John H and Ian M on board, we met Andrew H at the car park at Lynford and walked along to the Larch area. The weather contrary to the forecast was dull and overcast with frequent "mistly" rain. At the Larch viewing area, the big wooden gate behind us was open behind us revealing a muddy track extending to the large house at the end. 2 Crossbills flew over calling and perched in the top of the tree, I also spotted a Hawfinch joining them and I yelled out Hawfinch! and we were able to ID as a female. This was the start of a real purple patch here that would last all morning! A few minutes later, a group of around 10 Crossbills flew over and settled in the bush, one flew looked a little different and sure enough it proved to be the male Two- barred Crossbill. It flew into the top left of the tree, the white wing bars could be seen in flight. Typically, a bird more pinky red rather than the brick red of Crossbill plumage colour with 2 white obvious wing bars and longer narrower bill than Crossbill. It flew to the left and then flew to the top of a tree in full view further away where it was seen well at the top. A stunning bird and my first in 20 years! Eventually the group of 11 Crossbills flew off calling "chip chip" as they went. It was then the turn of a female Hawfinch to fly in to the tree, more subdued plumage than the male. A Treecreeper was seen crawling up a tee nearby. A Mistle Thrush then flew to the top of the tree. At the feeding area, a Nuthatch seen perched on a curled branch briefly before flying off left. A walk to the usual Hawfinch area for once failed to reveal any. But walking around the Arboretum, 9 Hawfinches flew out of the top a tree and 3 came back and fed from the very top of a tree, feeding on the buds. Looking over to the garden of a large house, 3 Hawfinches seen at the top of a tree and later 10 Redwings seen at the top too. Walking down to the lake, was an inspired decision as half way down at the left t junction of forest tracks, 3 Crossbills sp flew in and one showed white barring. The other 2 were Crossbills but the third, as I raised my bins and sure enough it the very top of that tree, the fine male Two- barred Crossbill could be seen again. The more pinky red plumage noted, the white wing bars (not as thick as on a full adult but substantial nonetheless and significantly, we noticed on this closer view the diagnostic thin white edgings to most of the tertials (these can become abraded in worn plumage) also the the slimmer longer bill noted again. After a minute or two it flew to the right hand tree where it also stayed for a minutes before it flew left with the 2 Common Crossbills. At the Lake we saw 3 Gadwall and a Common Teal. Finally, the icing on the cake, at the car park, we just initially missed a Fircest but half an hour later, I heard the distinctive more scratchy call and it flew back into the holly where I saw the Firecrest for a split second before it flew left (into a still group of beech leaves) showing the more olive green plumage with bronze shoulders and distinctive dark eye stripe and supercilia. It was not seen again, but this sighting had re-inforced my earlier view that this was my most successful visit ever to Lynford Arboretum, I look forward to a repeat visit soon!