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Sunday, 17 January 2010

Winter Wonders!

On the first really nice sunny day for sometime, I decided to join my fellow Scilly (Jenny would call us silly birders!!!) birders John H & Andrew H on a very pleasant trip around east Norfolk.
On the journey we drove past 3 Fieldfares feeding on the grass by the side of the road near the turn off to Stokesby.
First up, was a stop at Cantley where overlooking the marshes here we saw a group of 4 excellent Taiga Bean Geese, although distant they are a fine elegant goose with long necks and orange on the bill. behind them was another group of 5. Throughout are stay here small groups of Bean Geese flew in and we counted at least 38 birds in total. Once they were disturbed by a Chinese Water deer feeding next to them.
Nearer the river was a small 35 strong flock of White- fronted Geese. Also seen was a Green Woodpecker flying by.
Driving to Norwich, we parked in Lower Clarence Road and were informed by Chris L (Justin L's brother) that the Waxwing was feeding on the apple tree viewable through an iron mesh compound but at the moment it was lower down in the tree and we needed to walk down to the Railway Station and view from the western most platform. As soon as we started walking, a shout went up and joining the assembled throng we could see the excellent Waxwing feeding voraciously near the top of the tree on one of the Apples. It showed for a while before hopping down again.
John's pager suddenly beeped informed us that a RN Grebe was at Whitlingham Lane Great Broad, being only 3 miles away that was our next port of call.

As soon as we arrived from the car, I could not miss the Great Northern Diver showing very well indeed so I dashed over to the edge of the Broad and fired off many shots as the bird even lifted itself up from the water and flapped its wings (see top photo!) It eventually swam further away.
We switched out attention onto first one and then 2 Redhead Smew swimming with ducks on the far side of the Broad just in front of the ice on the far side.
I was just starting to look at a female Goosander perched on the extreme right edge of an island north of the Broad when a shout of Red- Necked Grebe went up. We dashed over and I just caught the bird as it dived!
The chap who had originally re-spotted it was not entirely sure but I picked it up immediately as it re-surfaced and it was indeed the super Red- Necked Grebe. I called it out and directed everybody onto it. Slightly smaller and darker than Great Crested Grebe (around 10 were seen nearby) with a dark bill with yellow at the base. The bird frequently dived we followed it as it swam over to the far left of the broad before swimming back to the middle always keeping itself on the far side. The female Goosander was seen again too, this time swimming on the water.

Next up was Barton Broad, the car park was "choc-a-block" and as we walked the half mile from a path skirting the side of a field, the walking down the road and then finally treading gingerly over a very slippery boardwalk we joined a throng of birders at the viewpoint over the Broad.
3 superb male Smew were seen at the back. This trio of male Smew were very smart looking birds with their white plumage offset by black lines looking like cracks in ice.
Amongst some Pochard and Tufted Duck I spotted the fine male Ferruginous Duck. Its plumage was a fine rich purplish tinged chestnut with its yellow eye standing out and when it dived you could also see the white rear underparts too, another cracking bird on what was fast becoming one of my best winter's days birding ever! Amongst the ducks were 2 female Goldeneye and a very smart Goldeneye. Over to the right a female Goosander swam by.
Our last stop was between Horning/ Upper street and Ludham. As we drove by, we could see Chris scoping the Bewick's Swans standing in a sugar beet field. I finally managed to park up nearby and John, Andrew & I enjoyed the marvellous sight of some 170 wild Swans feeding amongst the beet crop, I counted 12 Whooper Swans  (including at least 1 immature) and their smaller daintier cousins, some 158 Bewick's Swans. Several Bewicks Swans also flew in during our stay here.  


Colin Jacobs said...

Excellent images Pete.

Peter Ransome said...

Thanks Colin, just very lucky with the GN Diver- how close it was and then it jumped out of the water and flapped its wings at just the right moment!

Paul Woolnough said...

Good to see you wre out in my local area with Messrs Harris and Harriss!

Pity the black-necked grebe in Lowestoft did not stay. The only grebe I need in Lothingland!

Already had all five grebes in and around Norwich now have all five at Whitlingham Great Broad!

The best bird seen at both is alpine swift in early April 2006 Lowestoft Two Whitlingham One if you get what I mean.

Peter Ransome said...

Thanks Paul, I think there will be more goodies turning up at Whitlingham especially if we get another cold spell, & I'll be back!