Monday 23 February 2009

Norfolk: the grand tour!

Still somewhat sleepy after my late night return from Gambia on Friday night, I joined Monkey, Hawky and Lethy on a trip to the Brecks... or at least, that's where we started!

First stop was Santon Downham, where the Lesser-spots showed superbly from about 7.30am. Two males and a female were constantly chasing about right in front of us, with a bit of drumming and periods of manic display thrown in for good measure. Brilliant birds, brilliant views!

Moved on to Lynford for some Hawfinch action - Hawky (or should that be Hawk-eye?) picked up two flying over the road near the carpark, while the rest of us had to make do with a more settled bird in the usual hornbeams in the paddock. Aside from various flocks of Siskin roaming around, we didn't see a huge amount else, preferring instead to move on to take a quick look at Brandon Country Park, where I'd heard rumours of a regular Willow Tit. They could be true.... but our few fleeting views of a non-calling bird weren't enough to rule out Marsh Tit. Ho-hum.

Hmm... was that a Willow Tit?

The main target of the trip was Goshawk, at a not-very-secret site in Thetf0rd Forest. However, the weather was neither as warm nor as bright as the previous day, and we were out of luck. A male had been seen fairly briefly between 9.30 and 10am, just before we arrived, but we had to make do with a distant flock of 6+ Crossbill and plenty of gorgeous Woodlark song. Not a bad way to dip.

Mr L took the opportunity to return home and recoup some brownie points with the boss, so I switched cars. Not having a strong preference for our next stop, we headed up to East Norfolk, since Monkey wanted to see a little white goose and some Cranes. No problem - here they are...

Onwards to Cley, where a Pale-bellied Brent was quickly located as it flew past the visitor centre, from the reserve to nearby fields. Views were good, and the Monkey moved up to a two-tick day (well, with a rather loose definition of tick, but never mind).
Huge contrast between dark neck and pale underparts and flanks.

Reviewing the photos afterwards, a second individual looks interesting as well - check out the bird to the left of the obvious Pale-bellied here:

Unusually pale Dark-bellied Brent, a second less obvious Pale-bellied... or dare I say hybrid?!

Final stop of the day was a quick diversion into Lakenheath RSPB, where the Great Grey Shrike showed typically well, just north of the carpark. Photos weren't anywhere as impressive, though!

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