Friday, 18 December 2020

Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe still on the Trinity Broads.

On Dec 17th an early afternoon wander around the Trinity Broads revealed that the long-staying Long-tailed Duck had now moved to Filby Broad but views were quite distant.  The Slavonian Grebe at Rollesby Broad was again in it's favoured area and, as always, also rather distant.  A Scaup was present on Rollesby Broad but by the time I arrived the sun was low in the sky rendering the Ducks as mere silhouette and I was unable to pick it out. 

2 Iceland Gulls again & a not so close Red-necked Grebe.


A pleasant morning at Winterton north beach on December 15th saw both Iceland Gulls still present but neither were close enough for decent photographs.  A number of Grey Seals had left the beach and ventured into the dunes including several pups with the Seal wardens on duty trying to ensure people didn't venture too close.  One large bull Seal on the beach had clearly been defending his territory and had many scars to prove it!  

News of a Red-necked Grebe showing close to the staithe at Malthouse Broad tempted me to head there early afternoon hoping for the chance of some nice photographs.  Unfortunately when I arrived the bird was about as distant as it possibly could be!  Even through my 'scope the views were poor and it was only just possible to make out the dark neck and pale yellow bill.  Hope that some boats on the broad would push the bird closer proved unfounded and when it moved up a channel out of view that was my signal to leave.  Red-necked Grebe is not a common bird locally and always nice to see (even distantly!) but the views obtained were not what I had hoped for.  A tame Pink-footed Goose feeding on the staithe with Greylag Geese proved to be the only bird I managed to photograph.

Great White Egret and some nice Geese.

 First stop on December 14th was near Acle where I pulled off the road to look at a Barn Owl box in a field.  There was no sign of the Owl but a quick glance at an Egret on the opposite side of the road revealed it to have the orange bill of a Great White Egret.  I still like seeing Great White Egrets which is probably because when I started birding this was an extreme rarity!  I remember my first Great White Egret at Minsmere was a major twitch!  How times change.

Next stop was Ranworth Broad where I located a Redhead Goosander and a brief Otter which dived under the water and vanished!  Final stop was Buckenham where c90 White-fronted Geese allowed reasonable close views while c40 Pink-feet were mostly seen in flight.  As always, the Wigeon were close to the main track and allowed very good views including the nice female pictured.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Slavonian Grebe at Ormesby Broad.

 On December 6th I made the short journey to Ormesby Broad where a Slavonian Grebe had been found the previous day.  I soon found the bird but quite distant.  Slavonian Grebe is much smaller than Great Crested Grebe and has a short black bill rather than the long obvious pink bill of it's larger relative.  I returned on the 7th & 10th both both times the bird was in exactly the same area so the views remained frustratingly poor.  Also on the 10th I visited Ormesby Little Broad where I was pleased to find at least 4 Redpoll in with the regular Siskin flock.

While at Ormesby Broad I decided to shoot some video of the close Gulls in the carpark.  I don't often shoot video using my Canon 7d mk ii but I was pleased with the results and it's something I will experiment with in the future.  Back home, I was able to use Canon DPP to extract still images from the video and I was surprised buy the quality obtained as can be seen in the photo to the left of a first-winter Black-headed Gull.

Two Iceland Gulls!

 On December 2nd it was back to Winterton north dunes hoping to see both of the Iceland Gulls which had been present for the past few days.  I joined Murray Smith who had found one of the Gulls but it proved to be the dark billed bird which I had seen a couple of days earlier.  The Second bird (with an obvious pink bill base) had been seen earlier and was eventually relocated.  Telescope views were good but sadly it was not close enough to photograph.  In addition to the obvious difference in bill colour this bird was also much paler.  Both birds seemed to be feeding on the afterbirth from the many Grey Seals present.  A single hybrid Hooded X Carrion Crow was also noted.

Iceland Gull is a scarce bird locally and I believe this is the first time I have seen 2 in the same day so very pleasing although disappointing that I wasn't able to get any photographs.  

Barnacle Geese and an unexpected Smew

 November 30th was a grey cold day and I wasn't out for long but I was surprised to find a group of 24 Barnacle Geese just down the road in a field at the junction of Martham Road and Collis Lane.  I've never seen Barnacle Geese in this area before, and, given there had been a movement of wildfowl the previous day, there seems a reasonable chance these were wild birds.  However, resident flocks of feral Barnacle Geese in east Norfolk make it very difficult to be certain you are watching wild birds so it's a case of not really knowing one way or the other.

December 1st found me visiting Ormesby Little Broad where I was delighted to find a redhead Smew from the road bridge.  I've found a number of Smew here down the years but usually they don't arrive until the new year so it's not something which was on my radar at the start of December!  It was seen by Ken Saul and his wife who arrived while I was still watching it but sadly other observers who looked for it later in the day had no joy so it proved to be a very short staying bird.