Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wild Goose chase on the Broads

A returning Lesser White-fronted Goose in the Broads was enough of an excuse for a day out birding.  By the time we had got to Buckenham Marshes, the sun was out but the wind which had died down yesterday had raised its head again.  A group of birders were already 'scoping the Bean and White-fronted Goose flock when we arrived and then after a few minutes searching, the Lesser White-front eventually showed itself, and the pagers weren't lying when they said it was distant!  The distance coupled with the stiff breeze and the bright sun meant it wasn't the most satisfying of ticks, but it was still distinctive enough to pick out.  Knowing the goose was going to be distant, there really seemed no point taking the camera with me, but many of the Wigeon here show superbly well by the track that I ended up regretting my decision.
Next stop was a short drive to Ranworth Broad where a female Ring-necked Duck showed well amongst a few Pochards but as always seems to be the way with ducks, it spent most of its time fast asleep.

As is customary on days birding in the broads, the best place to end the day is at the harrier and crane roost at Stubb Mill.  Normally we just get there for the last hour, but today decided spend a little longer there, arriving at the viewpoint at 1.30pm.  Almost immediately, 3 Cranes dropped in and then after a short wait, 2 flew across, giving probably the best views we've ever had here.  A while later, 2 different Cranes were located on the ground, albeit distantly from the viewpoint, but again showing well, and even tempting me into a digiscoped record shot.

The Cranes are the highlight for many, but possibly more impressive are the numbers of Marsh Harriers which gather here, and today there were well in excess of 30 birds in the air at any one time along with a single ringtail Hen Harrier.  By the time dusk, and with the stiff breeze, the temperature, fell, in addition to the harrier fest, we had seen at least 6 Cranes, 17 Bewick's Swans, Kingfisher and a Peregrine which caused chaos as it flew through, so all in all, a good day!

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