November 16th continued......
Snow Buntings Glaucous Gull
Common Crane Happisburgh Lighthouse
North Norfolk Geese, Ducks & Waders.....
The somewhat regular (recently) Thursday trip along the North Norfolk Coast, with Jason Nichols (23rd) found the harvested sugar beet field at Kelling full of Pink-footed Geese. At least 800 of these geese were present feeding on the sugar beet remains and a Brown Hare ran across the field in the background.
A Brief stop at Walsey Hills pond saw two Little Grebes on the pond and a Little Egret.
A Long-tailed Duck had been present at Brancaster Staithe for several days, so a stop at one of our favourite ‘coffee stops’ followed and after a short while the long-tail was seen just before it disappeared under the water.
The duck was constantly diving and not spending much time at all on the water’s surface and for a while was a fair distance away. However, the tide was on its way out and with the channel narrowing and therefore allowing the car closer to a smaller area of water meant the long-tail became a closer subject for viewing and indeed the camera.
At times, the duck moved further up the channel, but then flew back and began looking for prey once again, not too far away, sometimes surfacing close to the edge of the receding water. On one occasion, a ‘small’ green crab was caught and consumed (probably a Shore Crab), but although the duck could be seen eating something on several other occasions, it was impossible to see what the food item (presumably small) was, as the duck handled and consumed it very close to the water’s surface, if not below it.
The duck’s search for prey was very intriguing, as it almost seemed to be systematically covering different stretches of the water; in accordance with the receding tide and searching in areas where the receding water would possibly leave potential prey exposed. This is very similar to the feeding behaviour of rafts of seaduck (e.g. Scoters), which after searching for food in one area, then fly back to continue the search for food, as the sea floor and water column environment change with the currents.
A good selection of waders, were present and included: Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Common Redshank, Grey Plover and Curlew, whilst small parties of Brent Geese flew past.
On the way back east along the coast, a stop at Holkham found a Muntjac lying in the middle of a grass field and at Beach Road, Cley at least 500 Golden Plover were assembled around the pond in the Eye Field, with some taking the opportunity to bathe.