Coordinator/Leader: David Gibbons
Reporters: David Gibbons & Jacquie Fenn
Seventeen keen Wensum Valley birdwatchers met at the village car park outside the gates of Holkham Estate at 9.30am. It was a brighter than expected day with a keen bite to the air. Hats and gloves the order of the day. As we headed towards Lady Ann’s Drive we notched up Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits as well as Jackdaws prospecting for nest sites in the chimneys of the estate houses. Greenfinches glowed in the top branches of nearby trees. Just as we were about to cross the road a Red Kite glided over from the fields on our right towards us. Once in view of the flooded fields we had our work cut out for us as there were lots of geese and ducks enjoying the wet conditions. Brent Geese were joined by Greylags and White-fronted and these in turn were surrounded by hundreds of Wigeon which looked spectacular in the winter sunlight, these were interspersed with Gadwall and a small number of Teal.
The water levels had dropped since Christmas but small lakes still seemed to be attracting a good variety of birds. Lapwings, Curlews and the odd skulking Snipe were feeding happily in the muddy areas.
To our right we spotted a perched Buzzard on a fence post along with Shelduck and Shoveler on the larger areas of water. One lonely Stonechat perched on top of a clump of grass. Some people managed to get good photos of a Mistle Thrush which perched above our heads. Grey Partridge were feeding in the long grass near to the drive and seemed unphased by the increasing numbers of dog walkers, horse riders and walkers which were steadily building up. Near to the Visitor Centre there were 20/30 Ruff, with Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks.
Along the boardwalk to the beach Glen picked up a Goldcrest call so we all scanned the firs and spotted the bird high in the tree amongst the cones. We headed east along the beach. There was a flock of 50/60 Snow Bunting which moved around the fenced off area and finally landed between the sand dunes. Unfortunately, the Shore Larks stayed out of view. Meadow Pipits joined the buntings from time to time and Skylarks could be heard singing.
Looking out to sea there were very large rafts of Common Scoter with just a few Velvets amongst them. Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Mergansers were also spotted along with a Red-throated Diver. Herring, Black-headed, Common and Great Black-backed Gulls were all seen off shore along with Cormorants. After a bracing dose of fresh sea air we walked back to the cars for our lunch break before heading to the lake on the Holkham Estate.
Following lunch in the village Car Park, we said goodbye to some of the members and ventured into Holkham Park. Turning right towards the Monument we focused our attention to a bird feeder and were rewarded with Blue and Great Tits and 2 Nuthatches. Overhead, low-down and close, came a Kestrel and high above another Red Kite. Treecreepers were heard but we did see a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Reaching the lake, we came across Tufted Ducks, about 50 Gadwall, Mallards, a couple of Pochards and a Little Grebe. Walking towards the House at the side of the lake, we saw over 300 Shovelers, some on the lake and many on the banks, quite a sight! Coots and Moorhens were on the water and also on the banks.
At the back of the lake, in the field, were Greylag Geese and best of all 12 Red Deer, sitting down, all with the most magnificent sets of antlers. Light was now beginning to fade so back to the Car Park.
Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Great Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Jackdaw,
Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Song Thrush, Collared Dove,
Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Wigeon, Red Kite,
Moorhen, Linnet, Starling, Common Gull, Shoveler, Brent Goose, Meadow Pipit,
Curlew, Kestrel, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Coot, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Skylark,
Marsh Harrier, Teal, Buzzard, Grey Heron, White-fronted Goose, Grey Partridge,
Redshank, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Mute Swan, Pheasant,
Stock Dove, Common Snipe, Tufted Duck, Golden Plover, Goldcrest, Dunlin,
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe,
Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Sanderling, Jay,
Red-throated Diver, Kingfisher, Goldfinch, Rook, Great Spotted Woodpecker,
Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Gadwall, Pochard, Blackbird, Canada Goose, Little Grebe,
Stonechat, Snow Bunting, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Ruff.