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Monday, December 14, 2015

Norfolk Weekend

Weekend in Norfolk

We had a dry start on Saturday but persistent rain arrived at 10.00am and kept on until 5.00pm. The only bird i targeted was a Cattle Egret that had been present with a small heard of White Park Cattle. The stockman thought that it was a Little Egret so hadn't informed any of the local birders. The bird was easily picked up on the back of one of the cows, before flying over to a where other cattle were feeding on a straw bale. On route from my house which is only 8 minutes away I saw a small heard of 3 species of swan; Whooper 11, Bewicks 3 and 8 Mute's feeding in a field. Not much further on a distant flock of 1000 plus Pink-footed Geese were feeding on sugar beet tops. That was basically the highlights for Saturday, Sunday's weather was looking more promising, fingers crossed.
I was up at 7.00am and looking towards the coast the skies were clear but would it stay that way? no patchy cloud soon moved in. At 8.30am I decided that the light was good enough and out I went. I stopped at the Egret site, it was still there but asleep on a drinking trough on the far side of the field. I decided to call in on my way home. I then made the short drive to the coast in search of one of my favourite wintering birds, Snow Buntings. The beach was fairly quiet with only a couple of dog walkers and 2 guys with surf boards, now that is a rarity, rather them than me. The North Sea was as brown as mushroom soup and looked cold and unappealing.  As I walked along the beach in the distance I could see a small group of people doing something just behind the first ridge of sand. They were ringers and just on the seaward side of the ridge a a net had been laid out awaiting the arrival of the Snow Buntings. One of the ringers then came towards me and asked if I could avoid the immediate area. I said that I had seen what was going on and was going to take a wider route. It turned out that when growing up this guy used to live within 100 metres of Regent's Park  and had birded Regent's and Alexandra Palace. We had an interesting chat discussing the changes in the local bird populations and how much their numbers had declined.  I then went on my way and in the next 40 minutes I didn't see any birds trapped. However they must have been successful on at least on occasion before I'd arrived as quite a few birds were trying to get their new ID bracelets off. Time was now getting on so I made my way back home, via the Cattle Egret. The bird was now much closer and like yesterday morning was now on the back of a cow. I enjoyed this unusual visitor before moving on where just down the road feeding on hawthorn berries were at least 500 Fieldfares.    

    Looks like a bit of a stand off

    Snow Buntings

    They clearly don't like their Xmas presents


    Whooper, Bewick's and Mute Swans

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