A Norfolk Birding Weekend - Part 1

Having whetted the appetite for some birding last weekend, it didn't take much persuasion for me to accept John Wright's offer of a trip to Norfolk over the weekend with Bill Aspin to enjoy the delights the county has in store.

So at 5am Saturday morning we headed off along the M61/M62/A1/A17 into Norfolk for what turned out to be a very good two days of birding with numerous highlights. First port of call was Buckenham Marshes on t'other side of Norwich to twitch the Lesser White-fronted Goose that had been there in the company of the Taiga Bean Goose flock. It was the first time any of us had visited this part of Norfolk so after a few wrong turns (sign-posting akin to Inner Marsh Farm, i.e. keep it a secret) we parked up, donned thermals and headed down the track.
Flocks of Wigeon were very confiding
Bill 'grabbing' some images - hope to borrow some later!
Almost immediately, we came across a crowd squinting into the sun as they scanned the Bean Goose flock. We found the bird pretty quickly but got better views an hour or so later when the sun had moved round and was partially hidden behind the clouds. It's been a while since I saw one of these so to catch up was very good. And of course there were the Taiga Bean Geese with their huge beaks - I can attest to the fact that the Falkirk flock is far more difficult to track down and usually even more distant so to have prolonged leisurely views was splendid. And of course there was a host of other birds in the area - huge numbers of Golden Plover and Wigeon along with several Marsh Harriers, Barn Owl, Buzzard, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Pinkfeet, etc.
Buckenham Marshes - there's a flock of geese over there, honest!
Next port of call was a leisurely stroll around Ranworth Broad where a Ring-necked Duck had been in residence. With no recent news we headed along the boardwalk to the Broads Nature Centre (which was closed) and after setting up the scopes on the raised viewing platform, three ducks sailed out of the nearby reeds. "Wouldn't it be funny if...." John started. Incredible luck as the furthest bird was the female ring-neck we hardly got a moment to try for some images before it skulked back into the reeds never to be seen again! We still enjoyed the myriad of wildfowl and close encounters with a pair of Marsh Tits.
Female Ring-necked Duck with female Pochard before hiding in the reeds
Having finally found a shop to get some fodder, our last spot was the Harrier/Crane roost at Horsey. The yomp to the viewing area (Which wasn't Stubb Mill, Bill!) took its toll on my hip but when we got to our viewing spot we had a lovely male Hen Harrier and two Cranes with a further (?) seevn distantly a little later on. The most unexpected bird of the day was a Green Sandpiper calling as it flew over our heads. We'd seen several Chinese Water Deer in our travels but one tried to get a bit too close to the car in the dark.

Our accommodation was booked in the town of Holt and the birding didn't stop as we engaged in some hooting with a vociferous Tawny Owl on our way to our excellent evening meal in "The Feathers".

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