Our planned 'first of the month' birding outing took place despite the bitterly cold NE wind from Siberia. Nothing to see at Harpley Cottages, breakfast at Abbey Farm where 2 Little Owls huddled in the base of the fallen oak. Pam spotted a Common Buzzard on the ground feeding on carrion in a field to the right of the hide. Looking for the finch flock present last month, we stopped to look at the scruffy barn area opposite the farmyard entrance.A bare tree just showing to the right of the building had Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows, a Reed Bunting and Brambling amongst the Chaffinches. Excellent.
The orchards on the way to West Newton held a flock of over a hundred Fieldfare and the odd Redwing. Soon after passing West Newton village, a pager message informed us that the Great Grey Shrike was showing just down the road at Dersingham Bog. No parking room so, on the verge again. Nothing at all in the approach woods and no sign of the Shrike either. An older man who puffed up the steps told us that he'd been in the area when the news came through and he hadn't seen the bird.
On to Snettisham RSPB where we saw 3 Scaup on the first pit, 1 female and 2 immature males. A good start. Hardly had we driven onto the raised causeway than we were engulfed in a heavy snow shower which made viewing impossible so we beat a hasty retreat.
Another heavy snow shower at Hunstanton cliffs which we watched sweeping from the north east across the Wash. Common and Velvet Scoter were identified before the snow obliterated the view. Making our way along the north coast with no further walks and just two stops at Brancaster Staithe and Cley visitor centre to view the marshes, we were home by 2.20 out since 7.30. Considering the weather and the hours spent, the day's total of 88 species was amazing.
A late morning drive to Winterton Beach via Horsey added 6 Common Cranes and a Gannet to the month list. Shopping in North Walsham Sainsbury's added 3 Waxwings!
We're just in from 3 hours sitting in Fen Hide,Strumpshaw RSPB, freezing ! Pleasant chat with Pete Milford, Dave Holman and a couple of Great Yarmouth Bird Club members, including Judy, helped to pass the time as did three views of Bitterns flying, two of them in quick succession so different birds.One flight was for the full panorama of the extensive view from the hide across the reed bed. No Penduline Tit though. It seems to be ages since we were birding so it was nice to be out, the paths and hides there have been much improved since our last venture beyond the Reception hide.