In the evening whilst watching the gulls stream eastwards towards Breydon, a very early Swallow flew through.
I went out for a jaunt around Norfolk with Gary & his dad, intending to look for the Great White Egret and then make our way up to the North Norfolk coast. In half-hour or so at Marlingford there was no sign of the egret, although we did hear a Grey Wagtail at Marlingford Mill and watched Buzzards displaying over a local woods. Our dip-fest continued by not seeing two species of owl and not seeing Woodlarks. "Surely that isn't going to be the highlight?" was the groan as we came away from the first three hours birding with distant views of a Stonechat.
We reached Titchwell and sprinted for the food hatch, Gary being the winner of the one sausage roll, whilst the losers received the Cornish Pasties. Presumably we can't call these Cornish pasties anymore, as they now have some sort of European regional protection. Anyway, by the time Phil got to the hatch there was no pastry-based products of any description. On the beach we walked along towards Thornham to get level with the scoter flock. No sign of any Velvets, but we did see a small flock of Eider and two Red-necked Grebes. A flock of Snow Buntings flew over our heads and we were stalked by two Black-headed Gulls.
Other stuff at Titchwell included Twite, Water Pipit and Water Rails. Beginning our way back to Norwich we stopped at Choseley, where we were serenaded by the jingling song of Corn Buntings, which was lovely. Back at Marlingford, looking at the same field as before, the Great White Egret was bang in the middle of it. We blinked and it had gone, hidden in a sttep-banked bit of river. Blinking again it was back, staying in view for about five minutes before vanishing behind a clump of Alders. We lingered a while, but it seemed content behind its trees so we headed back to Norwich.
Last weeks fence around the Little Broad, which I presumed would be to create a separate area on the north shore for use by educational bodies, has in fact been extended all the way around the east shore of broad. Suggestions that the fence is only a temporary measure until an 8ft tall brick wall can be built were denied by an imaginary Broads Authority spokesman. A Black Swan resting on the small sliver of mud within the fence gave it that wildfowl collection feeling. Of more interest was a hybrid Wigeon x Gadwall (initially seen by David Norgate a couple of weeks ago) along the far shore. It stayed along the far shore, but patience paid off as a couple of hours later it swam within photographic range.
I'm lonely, I want Bar-headed Geese and Puna Teal, now!
Gageon or Wigwall? I can't decide what sounds least stupid.
Walking around the Great Broad it was evident that the drizzle was keeping people away (the exception being the model yachters, but they were having a race from the bank rather than roping off the slipway). Looking over onto Thorpe Broad I saw my first Whitlingham Oystercatcher of the year, it appears that there has been a decent move inland over the past week as I also saw some at Marlingford and Flitcham on Sunday. Birds of the day were two redhead Goosanders in the conservation area bay. Another year patch tick, although they have presumably been at Whitlingham since Monday when Adam saw two there.
There are a number of beers named after birds, including the Wagtail Brewery's Best Bittern. Today Norfolk's best known brewery, Woodforde's, announced that their "Once Bittern" Ale will go on sale in pubs across Norfolk. It had initially been brewed last autumn exclusively for Wetherspoons pubs, but will now be released as a seasonal beer for this spring. For every pint sold 1p will be donated to the NWT. The press release doesn't say where it will be stocked, but if you're into your ale you probably know which pubs tend to get Woodfordes seasonal beers (Trafford Arms, Murderers etc).
For more information see EDP article
Also in the news today, Norwich Cathedral and the Hawk & Owl Trust have announced that they have erected a custon nest box for the Peregrines that have frequented Norwich Cathedral for the past few years. There are cameras focused on it, and they hope to follow the pair breeding via screens in the catherdral visitors centre. A welcome addition to Norwich's birdlife, and something to keep the Feral Pigeons on their toes!
Some pictures from the EDP can be found here
Whilst on the internet I happened to come across the winter 2010/2011 Whitlingham report, available here:
It answers one of my questions - it appears that the fenced off area of the Little Broad is going to be another private area for schools and educational activities. The bit that I'm not won over by is the decision to remove the last remaining open edge at the east end of the broad (and with it the last chance of passage waders) to create that desirable habitat "dense reedbed".
"To improve its potential as a haven for wildlife, the Little Broad at Whitlingham is to be planted with reeds along its eastern shore and around its fringes. Reeds have already grown naturally in some places and new planting will extend the reeds to form dense beds where warblers and waterfowl can live and breed."
"In a new project funded by Norfolk County Council who run Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre, a piece of land beside the Little Broad will be fenced off and planted with a screen of trees to create a secure site where groups from schools and other educational bodies can study nature.and other educational activities. Planting is due to start in spring."