A wander along the Norfolk coast with Jason Nichols began at Ludham Airfield (17th) where a herd of at least 107 ‘wild swans’ contained both Bewick’s and Whoopers were present. Feeding on the harvested sugar beet fields and then relocating in small parties to rest on the wheat fields, is maybe something, which farmers should take into account before moving the swans off winter wheat.
Over several years of observations on these two species of swans, it is only rarely I have seen the swans consuming the wheat, preferring the sugar beet tops. Unfortunately, this year it has been noticed that the very fast turn-over from harvested sugar beet fields (a great source of food for both Swans and Geese in the winter) into tilled fields ready for the next crop is more common place than usual.
Good productivity in a family group of Bewick’s contained 3 juveniles, and the family constituents was further, confirmed when ‘head-bobbing’ inevitably led to all five flying off and relocating. A Brown Hare huddled down in the wheat, in today’s strong winds coupled with a severe wind-chill from the northerly-orientated winds was also of note here.
I could have stayed watching and photographing the swans all day and judging by the murmurings of Jason, he would not have objected in the slightest!
With nothing on the pond at Walsey Hills, we visited Cley Coastguards; it was bloody freezing with the wind-chill factor and with no sign of the reported Glaucous Gull or Snow Buntings (although, admittedly not a lot of effort via walking was made to find these species!), at this point we wished we had have stayed at Ludham, in the car!
A distant flock of Brent Geese were seen returning to the coast road along Beach Road and our next stop at Blakeney Quay was more productive with a juvenile Spoonbill with at least 3 Little Egrets out on the saltmarsh, whilst a Cormorant with its very dextrous neck provided some close-up photographs.
At Morston, a Greenshank was a good find along the channel and at least 50 Brent Geese were here too.
Holkham’s Lady Ann’s Drive provided a Song Thrush, a nice covey of 8 Grey Partridges and thousands of geese with Pink-feet and Brents, plus a few White-fronted Geese from the ‘gate pull-in’ further along the road, where a Peregrine was also seen along with several Marsh Harriers.
At Brancaster Harbour a nice selection of waders were seen, albeit in minimal numbers and included: Ringed and Grey Plovers, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Turnstone and Common Redshanks.
At Thornham Harbour a small charm of at least 10 Twite were seen.
'Wild Swans' Geese, Waders and more besides......
Bewick's family ready for take-off......
Bewick's Swans Whooper Swan