3rd January 2010
Gary & I decided to have a day out in the east of the county. After picking me up we made a quick stop off on Clarence Road to have a look at a flock of Waxwings busy eating some rather manky-looking yellow apples. After having a good look, we carried on to Cantley to have a look at the geese. Gary's damaged foot ligaments meant that long walks were inadvisable, so we looked over from School Lane rather than walking towards the river path. A large number of White-fronted and a small number of Taiga Bean Geese were on the marshes, but there was no sign of the LWFG. We also managed to get some good views of Fieldfares hopping about in fron of us.
The next bird required a trip into Suffolk, but we decided an Iceland Gull was worth it. Arriving at Hamilton Dock in Lowestoft a birder was already looking at the Iceland Gull, and after flying around the harbour it eventually flew close to us and landed on the fence. Easily my best views of this species, and having not seen Ross' or Ivory, it has to be my favourite gull. High praise indeed. Back across the county border (or not if you are a political boundary denialist we stopped at Breydon Water south shore. We found out that the Brent Geese and a flock of Lapland Buntings were quite a way along, so we contented ourselves to scan the estuary. A huge swathe of Wigeon covered the mud, and every wader species was a year tick, including a flock of c30 Avocets.
Heading towards the broads we pulled in to admire the sight of a field of wild swans. There looked a healthy number of 1st winter birds with them, although they were being annoyed by what was either a one-man or large toy helicopter being flown nearby. We carried on to the Eels Foot Inn for our first visit. The garden has a brilliant panoramic view over Ormesby Little Broad, which was unfortunately frozen. We got ourselves a drink and then crossed our fingers for a Bittern. No such luck, but we did clock up 24 species, including three pub ticks - Jay, Red-crested Pochard and Marsh Tit.
Next up was Barton Broad, where I hoped to see drake Smew. A quick scan around the open water and there they were, two drake Smew amongst the Goldeneye. Whilst I feasted my eyes on the Smew, Gary had found a Peregrine sat on a post and being eyed warily by the Teal. Our final stop on the way back to Norwich was at Wroxham Broad. We scanned through the Aythya flock, interrupted for a while by the arrival of a mixed Redpoll flock in alders near the boat club. I was ready to give up, but another flock of ducks flew in, and amongst them was the 1st-winter male Scaup that had been seen that morning. Who needs colour when you have Iceland Gull and Smew?