A first on the first!


January was brilliant but what would February bring? Today we expected nothing as we were going to stay home but news of a Ferruginous duck tempted us out after lunch. It was reported as being at Holkham hall and would be a first for us both. We thought we had seen one before but no, it turned out to be a hybrid. We got to Holkham and walked across the field to the lake battling strong winds. Holkham has a herd of red deer and fallow deer (can’t count them of course!) and is a beautiful place to walk.

On reaching the lake we quickly found the duck, of course it was on the far side as distant as possible but I am getting used to that! We saw it through the  scope and are happy it really is a Ferruginous (fudge) duck. Anyway I am counting it quickly before anyone disagrees!!!

There are plenty of other ducks on the water and a good few geese but I was especially taken with these Egyptian geese. I am not sure if this pair are late or early in their breeding programme.

The three of them swam along together until the very young gosling decided it was time to get out. The parents did their best to call it back in but to no avail and they had to climb out and bring it back in person.

We decided to detour from our route home to try again for the Golden pheasant. The light was already fading when we arrived but we waited a while. We had just decided to give up for the day, started the engine and out he popped. He made the briefest of appearances but as he is so striking he is impossible to miss. It is thought he is the last of his kind in that area near to Sandringham which is a shame.

We may well try to see him again and if lucky get a picture but it certainly made a golden end to the first day of our second month.

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Bird count…131


Wild goose chase

What a difference a day makes, dry, bright and just calling me to the coast!

Although geese were the main aim of the day we wanted to get a reasonable walk and standing looking over fields of geese just wasn’t going to provide that. So first stop Cley NWT reserve where we went to the main hides giving views over the marshes and a good selection of ducks and a splattering of waders. Nothing new for the year but a lovely sight.

We re parked the car and went for a walk along the East Bank, something I haven’t done for a long time. My memory of the East Bank is firstly the muddy slope you need to clamber up to get to it and then there was a very narrow path along. How times change! Real steps to get up and then a firm, wide path right along, excellent!

Ducks, waders and oh yes geese too a beautiful sight but I knew there was something even better ahead. We met a chap who was on his way, back and a typical birding conversation began, “anything good about?” Daft question really we only had to open our eyes it was all good, but he knew what we meant. Yes indeed “‘they’ we’re still there but it was a long walk ahead, right to the end of the path then a good way along the beach” no problem at all and we were off.

What were we off to see? I hear you ask, why Snow buntings of course! The first time we ever saw Snow buntings was on our maiden Norfolk holiday  (almost thirty years ago!) they were just off the beach end of the path at Titchwell and as we saw them it began to snow, quite apt we thought. Now at Cley we were not disappointed, these little beauties were in a typical area of shingle where they camouflage incredibly well. We reckon there were getting on for thirty of these little beauties and well worth the walk.

A celebratory coffee back at the visitor centre set us up for the drive along to Holkham, searching for geese in the fields along the way. We picked up the ones we expected but sadly not the couple that we had hoped might be hidden along the flocks.

I have never seen the geese come home to roost at Holkham (it was on my list of things I want to see this year) but this was my chance. It was a lovely afternoon although it had clouded over a tad. Other cars began to arrive in time for others to watch the birds arrive too. Three Marsh harries entertained us, soaring high then swooping down low again, sadly they were quite distant. Then a few rabbits popped out for a run around a pheasant! IMG_0368_edited-1

The sunset was lovely and the geese began to fly in, slowly at first but they picked up in numbers.

Sadly my photos don’t really capture the sight but hopefully they give you a glimpse. We were glad we had stayed even though we were pretty cold by the time we left (I had four layers on by the end and they is unheard of!!!)  The thought of a cuppa when we got home was very inviting.

We only added four birds but they were good ones. No more mammals, insects or anything else. I guess most such creatures are tucked away till spring, very sensible really.

Birds 94    No other changes!