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THORPE MARSH: Reed Buntings return

19th February 2013

Around this time last year Thorpe was enjoying a good run of waders, albeit in frozen conditions, so I decided to avoid what would have been a busy Whitlingham (this week is half term week in Norfolk, other areas had it last week) and have a look around. Flyover swans were also high on my wishlist, with February traditionally offering the best chance of seeing them - not that I have since moving to Norwich.

The sun was shining as I arrived at Thorpe and waded through the flooded path to the cattle compound. The scrape was completely underwater (I persist in calling it the scrape, but others, perhaps more aptly, call it the flood!) and as a result it had Teal swimming on it but no waders. Further round I thought I heard a Reed Bunting calling, and indeed I had, seeing a male at the top of a bush (72) and hearing two more further round. Stopping to speak to one of the locals a Sparrowhawk flew over the marsh and headed low over the broad.

In complete contrast to the sunshine part of the broad was actually frozen, with hundreds of Black-headed Gulls loafing on it. I counted them, reaching c525, and checked for rings and Med Gulls - neither found. There were still lots of ducks, around 60 Pochard, 40 Gadwall, 40 Tufted Ducks and 30+ Teal, whilst a pair of summer plumaged Great-crested Grebes were on the river. On the exposed shingle 14 Lapwings were the only birds of interest.

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