Sunday, 2 February 2014
Lesser Canada at North Warren & Smew duo at Minsmere
The tension was palpable, I was busy photographing churches exteriors and interior at first Blythburgh and then Aldeburgh for my forthcoming Cromwell talk and I was waiting desparately for news on what surely must be one of the ornithological sensations of 2014 in Suffolk. A "double beep" from the mobile and a tweet that it was still there "Lesser Canada Goose at North Marsh, North Warren". The relief was visible and elated I drove the short way to the marsh. Only problem was the parking area was full and cars parked on the other side of the road. I should have known such a fantastic bird such as this would attract a legion of birders who were already there watching it? Strangely no, only 3 birders including Dick & Chris B were viewing it. I eventually found a parking space and walked up to the gate and scanned the flock of Barnacle Geese totally around 100 and almost immediately I picked up the fantastic, absolutely superb, Lesser Canada Goose was seen sitting down at the back of the left hand end of the flock. A dream come true, and if accepted, my first Lesser Canada In Suffolk and what a bird! All "legitimate" records of Lesser Canada's arrive from Greenland with Barnacles. More experienced Lesser Canada watchers had told me what cracking birds these are when finally seen in the feather and I wasn't to be disappointed, if anything, the bird exceeded expectations. It was around the same size of the Barnacles, with a much shorter neck giving the classic smaller Goose profile rather than a Greater Canad Goose profile. It has a smaller proportionately black bill with black head and neck, interspersed with a thicker white chin strap on the face. The black neck finished abruptly just before the upper breast with a grey breast, muckier brown flanks and browner back with dark wing tips, white vent and white rear underparts with short grey legs. It then woke up and started walking about by the front of the flock along the left side and fed and I was delighted to run off a few shots with the camera of this exceptionally rare visitor for Suffolk (if accepted as a wild bird). After some minutes watching this fine bird, with time pressing, I very reluctantly tore myself away and headed to Minsmere. From East Hide, a Grey Plover was seen on an island with 100+ Wigeon and around 8 Pintail. From the public platform, slightly further along, the 2 fine redhead Smew were seen on the middle of the South scrape pool, frequently diving they nonetheless gave good scope views. After further Cromwell related photography at Yarmouth, I checked the Caister to Acle road for Cranes and saw the 2 fine Cranes in the usual spot near Billockby, they were feeding just beyond the edge of the field in a stubble field and slowly walked further back and eventually into the field beyond. A great day of birding and photography with the undoubted highlight being the Lesser Canada!