Leader: Alan Hughes
Reporter: Jacquie Fenn
Bird List: Colin Fenn
A group of 16 members met at the Strumpshaw car park to start our walk at 9.30am. It was a very bright clear day with not a cloud in the sky and stayed that way all through the visit (thermals had been donned as a precaution by many).
We looked out from the visitor centre hoping for a view of otters or Bittern but to no avail. The pools of water were a Mediterranean blue but the cool breeze reminded us we were still in Norfolk. Looking back at the feeders we noted Marsh Tit, Siskin, Robin, Blue and Great Tits.
The group divided into two, one heading for the woodland circuit and the other going to the Fen Hide.
Unfortunately, due to heavy flooding, the Tower Hide was out of bounds. The woods, as so often is the case, seemed quiet at first but bit by bit we caught up with Treecreeper, Nuthatches, Marsh Tit and an obliging Song Thrush sticking to the pattern of three repeated tunes. Along the paths we came across Siskins and Bullfinches and on leaving the tree cover we saw a very smart Reed Bunting in the undergrowth as we headed towards the river. Geese and duck were few and far between.
As we walked along the river bank we looked for Short-eared Owl and spotted Marsh Harrier flying low over the tree line on the opposite bank. Some hardy boaters were out to enjoy the sunny but fresh day and a Great Crested Grebe joined them on the water.
We passed the other half of the group as we made our way to the Fen Hide and they told us they had seen Golden Plover and Common Crane before they had left. We only managed Greylags, Coot and Moorhen on the pool in front of the hide but spotted five Snipe which flew over our heads just as we arrived. We headed back to the car park for our lunch and then made our way to the Buckenham Marsh. Between the two sites we spotted a field full of Fieldfares, (try saying that quickly!) and a Mistle Thrush.
It felt strangely empty when we first started the walk at Buckenham. The wind was definitely blowing in across the marsh, and there was far more of a chill factor than at Strumpshaw. The marsh was, however, populated by at least twelve Chinese Water Deer grazing in amongst the tussocky grasses, but the geese were very few in numbers scattered here and there with the most dense groups sheltering up near to the river bank.
It seemed odd not to see the Wigeon all along the side of the track as is so often the case, but later in the walk four large flocks came onto the marsh from further afield. They are particularly beautiful as the light catches their wonderful plumage. Scattered over a large area were Mute Swans, one Great Egret, Teal and a single Oystercatcher and lonely Redshank. Lapwings flew and dived over the marsh and there seemed to be a large number of Rooks on the ground promising a possible viewing later in the day as they came to roost.
Thanks go to Alan Hughes for having ordered such a beautifully sunny if bracing day for our walks.
(Ed: A group of 7 of us stayed on a while longer, walking along the river to the old windpump tower. We were sheltered from the biting wind there, and we were lucky enough to have great views of a group of Pintail, 2 Ruff and a Red Kite that sailed over us looking magnificent in the low afternoon sun. We were also interested to note that there was a Barn Owl box installed in one of the window openings of the tower, and found several fresh-looking pellets on the ground below. We were all quite tired by then, and headed back to the car park rather than wait to see if the corvid roost was still operating).
Great Crested Grebe
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.