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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Goodies galore!

Waking up this morning, with an inch of snow providing a wintry scene, it was only fitting that I should visit the flock of Snow Buntings on Kessingland North Beach. Parking at the end of Rider Haggard Lane I walked onto the beach and soon picked up the excellent flock of 50+ Snow Buntings which showed well and included several very white and very smart males. There was no sign initially of the Shore Lark, but I spied a lone Brent Goose which was amazingly not the usual dark- bellied form but the much rarer pale-bellied variety feeding on the distant dune near the cliff face.
Making my way quickly over there and being joined by Chris D, Chris alone managed a few shots before it was flushed, but it only flew 100 yards south and was feeding on the middle of the beach. Chris and I then crept up very carefully and the bird became very confiding showing down to just 3 feet at one point! We naturally took advantage and filled up our memory cards within our cameras with dozens of cracking shots! The Pale-bellied Brent Goose is of the race "hrota" the Greenland variety, I have only seen this scarely seen variety twice before (a flock of at Langham in North Norfolk and 3 at Benacre in the mid 1980's!).
We left the bird as it was obviously exhausted and was constantly feeding to regain its strength.
Bumping into Pete M and gang he said they had just seen the Shore Lark and we ventured over to the beach near the pool and had some good views of this bird, it was on its own and the Shore Lark fed by the beach adjacent to the pool, where we were eventually joined by Dick W, who was somewhat put out as he had failed to photograph the Goose, because it had been flushed by an out of control dog.

Whilst driving along the A12 approaching Pakefield by the Focus DIY store, I happened to glance down by a damp ditch by the side of the road and was amazed to see a Jack Snipe standing by the ditch side! I turned the car around and parked up and as I walked over to the ditch the Jack Snipe unfortunately took flight and flew over east over to the old Gunnery range.
At Asda overlooking the River Waveney, 2 Shags could be seen looking west and at Ness Point, 1 solitary Purple Sandpiper frequented the rocks 50 yards north of the Point along the seawall edge.

Taking the very long walk mid afternoon out to Haddiscoe Marshes, the snowed up frozen landscape was the perfect setting for a host of cracking raptors seen, (thanks for the tip off Andrew E and Robert W & thanks to James W for helping me find my wayward mobile!) first up were 2 female Marsh Harriers quartering the marshes. From a viewpoint 300 yards past the big Pylon to the right, a crowd of the great and good of Norfolk/ Suffolk birding, the aforementioned Andrew & Rob, Dave H, Baz H, Jeremy G and others scanned the distant fields to the north- east and our hoped for quarry, a magnificent Rough-legged Buzzard was eventually seen perched on a distant gate. It would make frequent short flights to the east of the gate landing in the field and presumably catching various prey. During its regular flights the white tail with dark terminal band noted and when it perched back on the gate facing us we noted the pale head and contrasting dark lower belly patch. Up to 2 excellent Short- eared Owls flapped languidly over the fields. These wonderful birds even crossed over each other in flight. A ringtail Hen Harrier flew east, sadly an all too rare sight these days and the newly arrived eagle-eyed Lee G quickly picked out a female Merlin that sat on a gate in the foreground. 2 Chinese Water Deer were also seen, 1 feeding in front of the gate and also 1 to the side too. Singleton Linnet and Snipe were also seen in flight. A Little Egret flew into a field beside a gate.
Several (3) skeins of 100 or so Pink- footed Geese flew east, one flock landed in distant fields. Up to 2 Barn Owls patrolled the ditches. The Ringtail was seen again flying strongly east late in the day and this excellent day concluded with a small Peregrine (presumably a male) mobbing a Short- eared Owl!

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