Since my visit on Saturday a reasonable amount of snow and a cold snap had opened the floodgates for scarce winter birds at Whitlingham. Scaup, Bittern, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser (a real blocker here) and Goosander have all been seen this week. On Wednesday we went down after work in the vain hope that the Merganser would still be around, but it was just too dark. As we left Cathy saw a small dark goose on the slipway, but I didn't give it too much thought as the resident small hybrid often hangs around in that area.
On Thursday evening I was able to get a lift to Whitlingham slightly earlier to have a look around. As we drove along Whitlingham Lane I was looking for geese, seeing 2 Egyptian, 4 Greylag, and then a small one...a Brent Goose! I stared at it, as if subconciously I expected it to be a hybrid, but nope, it was a 1st-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Bonkers. Cathy got out of the car to get a better photo of it, at which point it wandered over the bank and into the overflow car park. This makes up for missing the previous one, which turned up at Thorpe for one day whilst I was in Scotland.
Photo: Cathy Thomas
Remembering what I had actually come for I scanned the Great Broad, seeing a huge raft of Common Gulls, and also the redhead Smew along the far shore. An excellent 30 minutes birding, and the good spell isn't over yet - a Great White Egret has just been seen (on the 10th).