Firstly I would like to thank everyone who took part in the Lesser White-fronted Goose poll. The poll attracted 22 votes (one of them mine). Views were polarised, with ten people believing the goose to have arrived from a foreign population and ten believing it to be an escape. Of the remaining two, one was mine (I'm reserving judgement to see whether it leaves with the Bean Geese or moves to a feral flock) and the other was content to wait for the BBRC to judge the occurrence.
So, back to actual birding. With Gary crocked, Adam & I decided to spend the day sliding around Whitlingham. The first birds of note were Greylags, a flock of 145 on the meadows alongside Whitlingham Lane. They were accompanied by the usual little hybrid goose. At least two of the birds had a domestic goose white "belly-band". This could allow them to be tracked later in the year, which will amuse me as I look at geese in the Yare Valley. The flock was the largest I can remember at Whitlingham, although it appears there was a flock of 260+ there last winter.
Walking along the edge of the Little Broad my second patch Coal Tit of the year was in the alders, as were a small number of Lesser Redpoll. With most of the Little Broad frozen, we moved on to the Great Broad, which also was mostly iced over. Scanning through the gulls Adam spotted a bright red leg, which turned out to be a ringed juvenile Herring Gull. The ring was on the left leg and had YZC in white lettering. The right leg had a more subtle metal ring. Preliminary research suggests that it was ringed at Landguard, so I have emailed them for confirmation. The first of two large holes in the ice was jam-packed with birds. I click counted 375 Coot and 125 Gadwall, whilst Adam saw a female Goldeneye which we failed to relocate.
Following up on a report of a Nuthatch in the bit of woods near the carpark, we kept watch on the bird feeders. Around ten Long-tailed Tits surrounded a fat ball, and then hurrah, a Nuthatch! My target of 110 Whitlingham birds for the year was achieved, and a patch tick to boot. In the second ice hole a lone drake Teal and loads more Coot and Gadwall, taking the overall counts to 560 and 303 respectively. Further along on the ice were two Shovelers, and a Fox ran across the frozen east end of the broad. The woods held little of interest, although a few Redwing flew over.
A good year all round, how to top it in 2011? A few targets:
Whitlingham - List target 112. Realistic patch ticks include Garganey, Bewick's or Whooper Swan as a flyover, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Slavonian Grebe.
Birds to try and find myself - Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler
Birds that realistically I'm not going to find, but would like to see: Blue-winged Teal, Bee-eater, White-winged Black Tern, Red-footed Falcon.
As well as following my progress with these, there will be more pub birding, more moaning about canoeists, some lifers for Cathy as she begins her third year of birding and probably some pictures of bees when she gets annoyed with her third year of birding and switches interest to insects. Heres to a productive 2011!