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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Norfolk joy, Suffolk woe

Starting at Cantley in Norfolk, (having spied 6 Pink- footed geese along the Acle straight on the south side of the road, 6 Shelduck on the north side), parking at Burnt House Lane and walking out right along the high field, we had a great vantage point over the marshes, unfortunately it was raining sleet as I set up the scope but there were 2 groups of reasonably close Taiga Bean Geese numbering about 40 in total. 
Immediately with them at the front and conveniently situated in front of a metal gate was a group with a much smaller goose, pointed out to me by a chap who had arrived a few minutes before me. The bird looked good, small (appeared slightly smaller than a White-front) small delicate almost cute looking pink bill with the white surround reaching up to the crown and kinking back when the head was seen side ways. The bird had short orange legs (i could see no rings on the legs) and long wing feathers extending beyond the length of the closed tail. I could not quite make out the yellow eye-ring on my 30x scope but looking through the 60X magnification of the chaps scope it could be seen. 
It was an excellent Lesser White- fronted Goose, it showed darker brown plumage (but had a paler breast area) than White-fronted Geese when 17 flew in. It was also slightly smaller than them and lacking the dark breast/ belly scallops of the latter.
The Lesser White- front continued to feed mainly amongst the Taiga Beans.
4 Egyptian Geese flew left and a Grey heron also flew by.
Driving along the Halvergate straight I spied 4 Fieldfares in a bush by the side of the road.
Next stop was at Herbert Barnes car park along the south shore at Breydon water where I saw John H and we saw a range of waders including Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, a Black- tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 (male, female) Pintail seen in the distance as we walked south- west past the farm the group of 130 or so Brent Geese flew past and settled on Breydon Water, 120 were Pale-bellied Brents and at least 6 were of the more usual dark- bellied form.
They then flew back onto the fields and I promptly left for Minsmere.

A stop at the layby looking over Kessingland Levels revealed 122 Barnacle Geese, at Minsmere I had the very pleasant surprise of seeing 17 Waxwings (my first on the reserve proper!) feeding just west of the Water Vole pool in the old car park, it was nice to see Steve P & Jon E here. The Waxwings perched in a nearby tree and promptly flew down to a bare tree spiked with many apples that they were feeding on.
Roy H said the GW Teal was showing from the west hide but when I and Chris & A, we couldn't see it at all although many Teals were asleep on the bank. A redhead Smew was first seen on the south scrape but then flew onto the west middle Scrape before finally swimming around North Scrape. I spied a Water Pipit that flew in calling and then fed at the edge of a bank, it was later seen even closer feeding on a small island. 2 Avocet initially seen on the south scrape flew past. Several Dunlin and around 4 male and 2 female Pintail seen plus at least 2 Black- tailed Godwit and a Snipe at the end of one island.
Despite waiting in the hide for close on 2 hours we were unable to relocated the GWTeal.
By the toilet block 2 Marsh Tits were seen around the bushes here.
Looking out over Island Mere from the overflow car park, 2 redhead Smew were seen on the far western end plus around 70 Greylag Geese flying past (my 8th Goose species of the day, and I didn't see any Canada's today!)
Driving out of Minsmere about 12 Red Deer seen in the fenced field and my planned detour to look for the Bewick's was abandoned owing to me receiving a massive instant puncture on my nearside back wheel- there was an eight inch gash along the tyre!!! (if you are driving on the B road from Blythburgh to Westleton near the Dunwich fiveways, please drive slowly & take care as the obstruction/ hole? is probably still there and caused another severe puncture to another car just 100 yards further north from way I broke down) , the car sound very juddery and noisy & I had to stop the car just 300 yards south of the Water Tower and I had to ring for Breakdown recovery as I could not get the wheel nuts off, even though I know how to change a tyre. An hour and a half later the recovery finally arrived and I belatedly made my way home.

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