Monday, 9 January 2012

Arctic Roll

Had a full days birding yesterday, with a Norfolk trip. Colin still not 100% but was up for it. Decided to concentrate on Titchwell and it's Redpolls.
Left pretty early and most of the trip was in the dark. Picked up a couple of Barn Owls on the way up beyond Ely. The regular detour through Ringstead did not produce much apart from a small flock of Corn Buntings, four Roe Deer  and the usual partridges.

  Chosely did not have much at all, though we did see a few Pink Feet on the way down to the coast.
 Titchwell was fairly quiet when we arrived, so no problem parking. A scan of the car park and picnic areas did not produce any Redpolls, and we went on to the feeders and waited. Many others arrived all hoping for redpolls but all we had was the usual Water Rail under the feeders. Eventually we all moved on and found a small crowd on the path looking at the bank-side Alders.
 There was a small flock of Goldfinches and Redpolls feeding, but despite directions I had a very hard time picking up the Coue's Arctic Redpoll supposedly in the trees. I did see a typical Mealy as well as a colder greyer presumed Mealy, before some of the birds flew off. Got a bit frustrated at this point, as did many others as it seemed that half those present could not see any Arctic. The rest of the birds eventually flew back towards the visitors centre.
 A few of us went back to try and get better views. Most of the Redpolls were feeding on the ground, mainly Lesser but the large cold bird was with them. Initial views through the scope seemed to suggest to all of us that we were looking at a Mealy but a closer study revealed baggy trousers a very short bill with a straight culmen and it gradually dawned on us that this was the Coue's Arctic Redpoll and this seemed confirmed when Colin's image of the rump was studied.
 Satisfied we continued on to the beach. A small crowd were found to be watching a distant Spoonbill out on Thornham Marsh. This concerned Colin as he had not seen Little Egret and he had visions of doing all the rare herons first. Luckily I soon picked up an Egret in flight. I was worried that it looked rather big and lumbering, but did not pick up on the yellow bill........
 Further up near the beach a large crowd was staring intently towards Thornham and someone mentioned that some had just seen  Great White Egret fly in.
Still there were a few Little Egrets for Colin on view.  
 The sea was pretty dead apart from a few Mergansers, Kittiwakes and unusually two Goosander. Four Snow Buntings were nice to see.
 On the way back we were directed to two Chinese Water Deer in the Marsh.

 The path near the centre was crowded with photographers-the birds were still feeding. They were a lot closer than earlier and we got very good views of both Lesser and the Coue's at almost point blank range.

 After several hundred images and very satisfying views we eventually left Titchwell and headed inland.
 A drive around Welney and Pymore was rather disappointing, though we did see some swans and plenty of wildfowl. A Barn Owl on a fence post was flushed by passing cars before we got to it. At the viaduct a scan of the washes was rather shocking as they were virtually dry-there did not seem to be any more water than when we were here in the summer.
 A final stop off late in the afternoon at Burwell Lode produced another Barn Owl, two Short Eared Owls and several Chinese Water Deer and a small herd of Fallow Deer.

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