|Posted on February 17, 2012 at 7:00 PM|
We left Orpington on Saturday morning around 08.00 with the temperature at -8C. It dropped to -12C on our journey into Norfolk and when we got to Cantley Marshes in the Yare Valley just east of Norwich, it had risen to -5C.
Cantley Marshes were rather stunning in the bright sunshine; ditches were frozen solid, reeds encrusted with frost and a thin layer of snow lay all around. The Yare Valley is the regular wintering spot for one of only two flocks of Tundra Bean Geese that occur in the UK and for the last two winters an adult Lesser White-fronted Goose has joined the geese at this site which also attracts a regular flock of White-fronts, Greylag and other geese. We walked out across Cantley marshes and along the banks of the Yare to view the geese.
From our vantage point on the bank I scanned through the flock and eventually found the Lesser White-front only for the lot to be flushed by a light aircraft! Luckily they returned and the Lesser showed well if distantly for the next hour or so. With the light behind us and the magnification cranked up you could see the eye-ring and appreciate it's smaller, stockier structure, bright pink bill and extensive white blaze. Mission accomplished we set off for lunch.
there's a Lesser White-front in there somewhere !
Our next stop was Horsey where we had lunch, walked around the mill and then had a look at the frozen mere. Unsurprisingly we saw few birds but it was rather lovely in the sunshine.
Near Waxham we had c1500 Pink-feet and dozens of Golden Plover and Snipe.
To finish we drove to Wroxham Broad where we found it largely frozen but the long thin ice-free portion out near the navigable water held a huge number of ducks and thousands of gulls. In the melee I saw 2 female Scaup, 3 Smew - a drake and 2 redheads and hundreds of Pochard and Tufted but no ring-necked duck!
We finally got to our accommodation at Felbrigg Lodge around 5.30 pm.
Pink Feet at Waxham
A lazy start saw the boys getting to walk Hugo - a 14 week old black labrador puppy belonging to the owners of our B&B - around the grounds of Felbrigg Hall. The boys would have voted not to give him back - he was rather cute.
Alex, Ed and Hugo
When we finally drove off it was early afternoon and I had plans to walk the East Bank at Cley but that was before we discovered the Muckleburgh Collection had opened it's doors for the first time this year and the kids wanted to see it soo much we relented and changed plans. It was excellent and well worth a look though colder inside the hangers than outside. It poured with rain during our visit so perhaps it was the right move.
The Muckleburgh collection ........
playing soldiers with real kit...........
Just after 4pm we dropped in on Salthouse beach car park where I grabbed a few photos and watched the flock of Snow Bunting.
We spent much of Monday at Titchwell where the weather was rather variable; misty, sunny, wet, cold but thankfully not windy. Much of the freshmarsh was still frozen which explained the frequent Bittern sightings and general lack of wildfowl. We found plenty to look at including Velvet Scoter on the sea and a small flock of Twite on the beach. The Coues's Arctic Redpoll gave ok views in the picnic area but stayed up in the alders. We didn't have a lot of time to do much after we left though we had brief views of 2 Rough-legged Buzzard's just east of Holkham at dusk.
After breakfast and packing the car we headed to Kelling to look for the Arctic Redpoll and were'nt disappointed. It was coming to niger feeders with around 10 Lessers and a Meally Redpoll. I managed to stay for around 40 minutes and got these images but would love to have had longer - that definitive shot is always just round the corner - but the kids are not that patient.
Coues's Arctic Redpoll
Coues's Arctic Redpoll
Coues's Arctic Redpoll
We spent a few hours at Holham waliking in the bay, along the beach. It was cold, grey and the sea a bit choppy but lovely and a welcome leg-stretch. I saw little on the sea but once back on Lady A drive we had great scope views of the 2 Rough-legged Buzzards - one is astonishingly pale, the other a standard looking individual. They were very active and spent time chasing each other and Marsh harriers.
Our last port of call was Stubbs Mill in the Broads where we went in hope of Cranes. At the watchpoint by the old mill around 4pm we had 4 Cranes fly by within a few minutes of arriving and I had around 11 birds in total. At least 30 Marsh Harriers gathered to roost but just a single ringtail Hen Harrier and no barn owls. In fact we saw not a single barn owl all weekend.