Birds don't have borders, why should we? New Year species count in Norfolk and Suffolk area.....
A 6.15 start from Burgh Castle, and out for the ‘traditional’ New Year’s Day species hunt with Jason Nichols.
The morning began well with a Tawny Owl perched in a roadside tree, less than a quarter of a mile from our starting point along the road of Butt Lane.
Nothing much stirred from that point, or whilst collecting New Year’s breakfast (from a popular American establishment that sounds Scottish!), or along the Acle Straight, but then it was still dark! However, a return drive along the Halvergate Road found our second bird of the day, another owl, a Barn Owl.
The first mammal of the day was a Rabbit, seen on the way to Strumpshaw where on arrival in the car park 2-3 Tawny Owls were calling.
Whilst waiting in the car for some degree of daylight; Carrion Crow, Mallard, Rook, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Blackbird, Grey Lag Goose, Coot, Gadwall, Wigeon, Wren, Robin, Wood Pigeon and Canada Goose were recorded.
Marsh Harriers coming out from their roost featured next (7 seen together over the reedbeds later), with a spring of Teal followed by Black-headed and Herring Gulls and Starling.
A pair of Mute Swans in front of the Fen hide contrasted with a Black Swan, which had no doubt escaped from its confinement, which was very vocal with bugling calls amongst other musical excerpts and a Common Gull, a less than ‘up to full power’ vocal from a Cetti’s Warbler and a fly-by Kingfisher added to the tally as did a Chinese Water Deer.
With no sign or sound from a Water Rail, Bearded Reedling or Bittern, or an Otter, a walk back through the woods produced ‘next to nothing’, so a Grey Squirrel and evidence of Mole earthworks had to suffice, until Coal, Great and Blue Tits, Greenfinch and Chaffinch were seen around the feeders as was the first Moorhen of the day!
After seeing a Jay, the road, via the railway crossing continued to Buckenham Marshes, seeing a Kestrel on the way.
Buckenham was not ‘at its best’ and not a single ‘wild goose’ was seen. The hoped for White-fronted and Taiga Bean Geese were nowhere to be seen and apart from Lapwings no other waders could be found.
Nevertheless, a Peregrine perched on a distant fence was good to find and Skylark, Shelduck, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Shoveler, Egyptian Goose, Red-legged Partridge and a Brown Hare added to the tally, currently standing at 43 species of Birds and 5 Mammals. 4 Chinese Water Deer and feral Barnacles were also of note here.
After a bit of lull, things picked up when a look for the ‘local’ Little Owl found this charismatic owl perched by the side of an ivy-covered tree trunk. Whilst here, Long-tailed Tit (sometimes a ‘bogey bird’ on these ‘fun’ listing days), Common Buzzard, Pied Wagtail and a Treecreeper amidst the tit-flock collective was a good spot by Jason, as it was not doing its usual routine of ascending a tree, but exploring the small tree branches in an almost tit-like fashion.
A Great Black-backed Gull further along the road, on a field was the next species on the list, followed by Goldfinch, a Collared Dove (Brundall), Magpie (en-route) and a Mistle Thrush (Panxworth) before arriving at our next designated venue, Ranworth Broad.
Walking through the Alder Carr woodland the calls of Siskins led to them being seen in the top of the alders, where there were also Lesser Redpolls. A bit of time-out (not as serious as some in the pursuit of a New Year’s Day list) to photograph the finches also resulted in finding a Marsh Tit and hearing a Nuthatch calling.
On the broad itself, duck were in good numbers with at least 1500 duck present, mostly consisting of Wigeon and also very evident here were Cormorants and our first Tufted Ducks.
Little Grebes are not often seen here, so two towards the end of the broad were a most welcome addition, but not a single Great Crested!
Happy New Year & a Wildlife-filled 2018
Back on the road again, a Song Thrush was heard singing in South Walsham and a skein of Pink-footed Geese were seen from the Acle Straight, as was a Fox watching for movement in the grass, on the way to Breydon.
Having chosen to do the ‘more local’ route on this particular 1st January, the Breydon estuary was to be our main location for the the day list wader contingent.
Curlew, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher (another species that can be elusive at this time and in this area), Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit were seen. However, perhaps much more impressive was the swirls of Golden Plover and Lapwing in flight and the cascading out of the sky to set back down again, a wonderful sight.
Lesser Black-backed Gull and Pintail found their way on to the list whilst here, but an accident with the camera and lens, resulting in the camera (at least) having to be replaced, was not what was wanted to start the New Year!
With the segregation, via boundaries decided upon (if not self-inflicted) by many individuals (but not by birds!), where to look for species (in this area at least) is either Norfolk or Suffolk and never the twain shall meet. However, Jason and I have a much more holistic approach and the area local to Great Yarmouth covers both counties and why shouldn’t it?!
Anyway, deciding on a ‘raid’ into the neighbouring ‘tribes’ territory resulted in a Great Northern Diver and a Shag being seen at Lake Lothing, Lowestoft, the concessionary Feral/Rock Dove at Ness Point and House Sparrows in ‘no man’s land’ in Corton and a Mediterranean Gull at Links Road car park, excluded any Purple Sandpipers and for that matter Turnstones!
Gorleston seafront was a very popular place today, but a flock of Common Scoter were seen (during a very brief visit), a couple of the already accounted for Med’ Gulls but still no turnstone!
Yarmouth Harbour (viewed from Gorleston) was the last hope for this normally ‘easy to find wader’ and eventually persistence paid off.
Out of the seaside metropolis and back into the more ‘happy hunting grounds’ of Broadland began with a Sparrowhawk at Little Ormesby and a look over Rollesby Broad (mainly covered by people on sailing dingys) and then Ormesby Broad found what we were looking for, Great Crested Grebe and Pochard, of which there were 6.
Little Owl Siskin
Lesser Redpoll Siskin