The Safari wanted to have a look at some of the habitat work that's been done recently at the nature reserve in advance of a wildlife meeting on Monday evening. Luckily the cold dull weather with icy showers during the morning had given over to a cold strong wind with prolonged sunny spells - result! On the way we met up with CR and we both kept our eyes and ears open for anything that may be worth pointing our lenses at. It was good to see the meadow that was really colourful this summer has been cut and raked so here's hoping for an even better show next year. From the viewing platform we saw no Bitterns or Bearded Tits but a distant diving duck down at the far end of the mere was identified as the first Goldeneye of the season, a female. Good to see a new arrival for the winter but not so good to see the reeds in front of Ice Station Zebra haven't been cut yet which is going to make counting the winter waterfowl awkward and getting any pics nigh on impossible.
The scrub areas were quieter than expected possibly due to the constant procession on unleashed dogs wandering hither and thither away from their numpty humans. A few Blackbirds braved the disturbance as did just one Redwing which showed almost nicely in the low afternoon sunshine. But where's the Fieldfares, there's been a few through but we don't think anyone's seen any feeding on the Apples yet.
|Would have preferred those two berries above its beak to be further to the left - picky we know|
At the scrape we didn't spot the couple of Wigeon we learned later were hiding at the back among the Mallards. The reeds here weren't being thrashed around by the wind so we lingered a while listening for any hint of the Bearded Tits, hope they haven't moved on - a couple of grit trays might have been a good idea to bring them out into the open too, probably a bit late now.
Down on the east embankment we felt the full force of the northerly wind and it didn't feel far off the slightly more famous east bank at Cley! We couldn't find the pair of Stonechats that have been about for a week or more but there were about a 100 Pink Footed Geese in the fields to the east. They were well out in the field and even with the advantage of being able to get a little closer from the recently mown area around the new ponds they were still a bit far for 'proper' pics.
Good to see them in some decent light though and a reasonable number, 1000 would have been better but we can't complain. Just hope the pillard who walks round with a dog and a Goshawk doesn't put in an appearance and frighten them off preventing them returning for the rest of the winter.
Those new ponds could be good for Snipe and Jack Snipe through the winter too - provided you can get to look at them before the day's first dog walker takes his mutt for a swim in them and flushes everything.
The reeds along the embankment were waving around wildly in the blustery wind so there was very little chance of seeing or even hearing the Bearded Tits so we retraced our steps back to the viewing platform. Water Rail were heard and a Cetti's Warbler seen darting across the pool in front of us. And now TS told us the Goldeneye was now down this end and when he looked there were two!
Time was running out and a very threatening black cloud was looming so back to the cars we went with plenty of notes for the meeting.
Back at Base Camp we let Monty out in to the back garden and a few minutes later we were back inside soaking wet, that threatening cloud delivered it's load alright!
Where to next? Another day visiting the poorly parents tomorrow but we might be able to get some wildlife spotting in in the morning and on the drive down to the South-side.in the meantime let us know who's all of a gaggle in your outback.