Monday 12 February 2024

The Broads - 10th February 2024

A adventure:

I slightly veered off through Lowestoft on the way to out meet point and had a look in the gloom at Ness Point for the Purple Sandpipers which as usual were not there despite the Turnstones still being present on their roosting groynes.  A 1w Shag was a surprise as it dozed next to them.

On to meet the crew at Filby (yes, I know I have been here a lot this winter) and somehow it was flat calm and without a breath of wind. It only took a few minutes to find the Ferruginous Ducks and whereas they gave me the run around last winter, I have found them every time this season.  They were midway across the Broad and to be honest actually showed rather well.  Goldeneye were starting to display and a male Marsh Harrier flew through.


Essence of Ferruginous Duck - 2nd from right!

A fine Pike brought in and released by a fisherman

We walked down through to the Ormesby Little Broad screen passing the expected Marsh Tits, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and squealing Water Rails.  A Great White Egret flew over and the Great Crested Grebes were vocal and starting to dance.

On to St Benet’s Abbey which allowed us to get some fantastic views of at least four Short-eared Owls but unlike my last visit, we could not find any Cranes or Hen Harriers. But there were other birds to be seen with two good views of Cetti’s Warbler, the first singing Reed Buntings, a couple of pairs of Stonechat and melodious Skylarks.

Short-eared Owl

There were Marsh Harriers and many perched up Buzzards and a female Peregrine was terrorising the large Lapwing flocks across the wet fields.

The Swans at Hickling Green on their potato puddle were even closer with 32 Whooper, 16 Bewick’s and four Mutes and two of the Cattle Egrets were visible up the road with the Belted Galloways although they cows had moved and viewing was a lot more difficult.









A dune watch off Waxham Barns produced a vast flock of Pink-feet but no Cranes this time and a male Peregrine was perched up on post in the distance with several Buzzards also loafing around too. The sea lacked waves but there was a heavy swell and it was very murky but every scan produced Red-throated Divers but four adult Gannets were the only other species noted.

A fine sausage sani and coffee followed at the Dunes CafĂ© with the constant sound of Pink-feet from the inland fields.  A solitary Yellowhammer flew over calling too. Across to Hickling and a walk down to Stubb Mill and back.  Brenden’s Marsh was covered in dabbling duck along with a few Pochard and Tufted Duck but also a female Smew that was happier feeding just into the reed margin.  I am not sure I have seen too many in Norfolk before.  

Smew and Gadwall

Two Great White Egrets paraded around and both had legs that were already colouring up.  I wonder if they will stay to breed.  With over 30 roosting at Fritton Lake at the moment t would only seem to be a matter of time.

Great White Egrets

Three pairs of Cranes were seen in flight and two Bitterns were booming in the mild conditions while the adjacent fields were once again home to hide and seek Fieldfares, Redwings and Starlings.  Reed Buntings were singing here too and a group of five Water Pipits got spooked up from the margins and flew over us.  Both Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac were seen but we were too early for Owls and such like.



Inland now to Buckenham Marshes for the end of the day. The marsh was covered in Wigeon and Lapwings as to be expected along with a smattering of Golden Plover, Ruff and Dunlin.  There were no ‘wild’ geese on the marsh at all but I eventually picked up 26 White-fronts dropping into the fields beyond Cantley and some Pink-feet off towards the Ted Ellis reserve. Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were constantly on view and a male Peregrine put on a breath taking performance and all with a throbbing jungle drum and bass soundtrack from a hidden rave somewhere near the blue house on the other side of the river!  It, unlike the Peregrine, never paused for one moment for the entirety of the visit and could even be heard from back at the car!




Two Great White Egrets were the first I have seen here I think and two Little Egrets were the first of the day.  As we abled back the usual Linnet flock was gathering in the trackside Brambles and Gulls started to drift overhead towards Breydon in the distance.

The wait for the Corvid roost was as thrilling as usual and like my last visit, the bulk of them left it to the last minute to darken the sky with their swirling cacophonous masses.  Greylag Geese were sneaking silently into the Beet field for a nocturnal feast and thousands of Pinkfeet could just be made out as they too headed in towards their roost for the night.  The wall of sound produced by the Jackdaws, Rooks and Pinkfeet was felt like constant waves on a beach in exactly the way that the Starlings of Somerset back in January.  None of the other people there had ever experienced anything like it before.

The hoped for last minute Woodcock rounded up the day.

Back at home that night I popped outside at about 10pm and despite the lack of wind the sound of the sea just over a mile away was simply astonishing and brought back all those Starling and Corvid memories so recently made...

No comments:

Post a Comment