I had booked into a Premier Inn near Norwich for the night. Very pleasant with a nice pub next door. This mornings aim was geese, and in particular, Bean Geese and then after that it was a few sites to get seperate birds before a big finalle then drive home.
I knew the geese were present around Buckingham Marsh but the Norfolk bible said to get more information from Strumpshaw Fen which, according to the bible, opened at day break. I was in the car park for 08.00 and it was very light but the sign said not open till 09.00. I decided to have a walk around the reserve, and I was glad I did. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Robin, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Mute Swan, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wren, Coot, Grey Heron, Teal, Water Rail, Marsh Harrier, Greylag Geese, Magpie, Reed Bunting, Jackdaw, Cormorant, Long-tailed Tit and Skylark. During the walk it started sleeting quite bad so I was back at the visitor centre/hide by 08.55 to a)keep out of the sleet and b) info on the geese. Whilst waiting the sleet stopped so I had a peak through the viewing screen and within minutes was watching three Otters. Bloody hell. I had been to scotland and Northumberland looking for Otters and never seen one and now I had three together. This really made my trip. By 09.15 the visitor centre/hide was still not open so I headed to Buckingham Marsh.
2-1-11, Buckingham Marsh.
Around this area, for a couple of weeks now, has been a Lesser White-fronted Goose. Now, these are extremely rare in the UK and for this to be the real thing would be something amazing. However, in the same area there are a couple of hybrids and many people are saying that the bird is an escapee. This is such an area of huge debate and many people will not go for it because they feel it is not real, but on the other hand many people will. I had the attitude of if I see it I do and will worry about adding it to my life list later, if I dont see it then never mind. Birds noted here were Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Carrion Crow, Moorhen, Rook, Pheasant, Greylag Geese, Mistle Thrush, Lapwing, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Starling, Teal, Marsh Harrier, Shoveler, Meadow Pipit, Tufted Duck, Dunlin, Reed Bunting, Canada Geese, Egyptian Geese, Blue Tit, White-fronted Geese, Bean Geese and Skylark. On the return trip from the long hike to see the Bean Geese a group of birders were passing me asking if I'd seen the goose. I said I hadnt when the pager went off saying the bird was seen from School Lane, Cantley, a bit further up than where the Bean Geese were. they about tirned and headed back to their cars. I had heard on the previous day about car parking at this site and I knew a load of birders had already gone their earlier. I made the decision not to go for the bird. It would have been nice and I do hope it turns out to be genuine (whoever makes that decision) but I decided to head back to the coast.
2-1-11, Choseley Barns.
I had spent far too long at Buckingham. I had a few birds I would liked to have seen but one was a must and I had to be at Thornham Marsh mid afternoon onwards to get it. No prizes for guessing it by the way. It was another two hour drive to get to Thornham which left me very little time for anywhere else so I decided to have a quick look around Choseley Barns to add anything to my year list. I noted Corn Bunting, Pink-footed Geese, Black-headed Gull, Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellowhammer, Blackbird, Dunnock and Sparrowhawk.
2-1-11, Thornham Marsh.
For sometime now, this has been home to the probable Northern Harrier. Again there seems to be some dispute about this bird being 100% Northern Harrier, but I decided to have a look at it anyway. Some might ask whats different about this bird to the Lesser White-fronted Goose. Correct, but the chances of the goose being an escapee are huge, from reading other blogs and Birdforum, the harrier shows a few differences from our native harriers and many people are now looking at it as a seperate species. Again, who makes the final decision??
Sod all of the politics though, birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Teal, Meadow Pipit, Mallard, Redshank, Pink-footed Geese, Great Black-backed Gull, Shelduck, Coot, Herring Gull, Turnstone, Little Egret, Brent Geese and Linnet. I dont mind the cold but after this mornings sleet and rain, I couldn't get warm again and standing around for the bird was hard going. It had been seen at Brancaster Marsh in the morning but not since. It roost was the Thornham area and in between was Titchwell. whats was at Titchwell thats very yummy and warm, tea and pasties. At about 15.00 I decided to head to Titchwell, try and park up then grab myself a some food and drink, then head out towrads the sea and try and intercept it it coming to roost. Good plan I thought but it all went wrong when, in the queue, the pager went off "Northern Harrier - Thornham" With this news, and no pasties left I decided to start heading home with the heater on full blast. as I got to Thornham somthing happened to my car and I was parked up again at Thornham Marsh. Within twenty minutes I was enjoying the NORTHERN HARRIER. It flew within one hundred metres of the hundred or so birders that were present an showed very well the orangy breast, dark body and large white rump. It also had a noticable hanging leg although this hasnt stopped it hunting.
I dont know what to do with this bird. Being an optomist I will pencil it into my black book and add it to all the lists but, being pencil, it can easily be erased.
That was Norfolk. 99.5 birds for the year (Northern Harrier being a half) including 2.5 life ticks. Proberbly did not make the most of the second day but thats the way it goes. Back to local patch birding.