Monday, 5 December 2016

Sea Ducks and Shorties

Colin and I had a rare day out birding on Saturday. While the Masked Wagtail in Wales was tempting, the thought of ten hours on the road was not, so we did the usual thing and headed off to Norfolk.
 Over the last few weeks, the sea between Holme and Brancaster has been very good for wildfowl, with (for the southern North Sea) very large numbers of Long Tailed Ducks, among a number of species, and with divers and grebes on offer Titchwell was the destination.
 The car park was pretty quiet for a change, with only the inevitable Robin turning up hoping for a bit of a sandwich, and a few tits Chaffinches and pigeons. W e missed a Merlin on the grazing meadows by a few minutes which was rather annoying. It was seen flying into the nearby bushes but never reappeared. We stopped off briefly to see the Water Pipit on the drain Thornham pool and then went straight to the sea. joining a rather large crowd of locals and visitors.
 Something like 40 Long Tailed Ducks were feeding close in, often just off the breakers, the Common Scoter flocks were also very close with a good 15 Velvets (also a higher than usual number). The small number of Eiders were remarkably the first we had seen here for over a year, and the four Scaup were a nice bonus as well.
 Divers were tending to keep a long way off with maybe a dozen seen over the course of 90 minutes. Red Throated were frequently seen, one Black Throated flew through fairly closely and at least two probable Great Northerns were also seen. An unusual bird was the Shag that flew west-not a regular off this part of the coast.
 Apparently there was a Red Necked Grebe sitting on the sea, though few saw it, and unfortunately the Slavonian Grebe seen yesterday had gone. There were a few Gannets of course, and one or two Kittiwakes were following the two trawlers among the more regular gull species.
 We eventually made our way back to the car picking up a variety of waders and wildfowl, had another look at the Water Pipit and spent a bit of time in the woods trying to find and failing, Siskin and Redpolls. One Brambling was on the feeders though.

 After lunch we went to Burwell Fen, having got directions to a small car park south of Reach Lode. This enabled us to cross over onto the fen using the footbridge and we could walk north to where most of the other birders were congregating. One Short Eared Owl was hunting over the field to our east, often perched up in a Hawthorn, and over the course of an hour or so we saw maybe four more birds. Some were hunting a way off up towards Burwell Lode but two approached quite closely at times and proved to be very entertaining.

 The above sequence is the best of the bunch when one of them suddenly popped up from a drain and unexpectedly flew past at pretty close range.
Unfortunately apart from a pair of Kestrels there were no other raptors or owls showing, and rather unusually we never saw any deer either.

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