Sunday, 2 January 2011

2011 - New Year in North Norfolk

Although my original plan was to head out to Thornham to look for the Northern Harrier, the crowd of ~100 birders that greeted my arrival made me think again, so I headed over to Titchwell to see what was on the reserve. It wasn't a wasted journey; 9 Shorelarks, 4 Water Pipits, 8 Twite (including a colour-ringed, yellow over green, bird), 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and some Velvet Scoter offshore with the Commons made the visit more than worthwhile.
After that I decided to take a look for the Northern Harrier again. As it obviously wasn't at Thornham, I thought I'd go and see if I could find it at Burnham Norton, where it has previously spent time earlier in its stay. So, after a quick stop at Brancaster Staithe, I head over to Burnham Norton. There were lots of Marsh Harriers out on the marsh and I glimpsed a ringtail harrier (probably a Hen) a couple of times as it rose above the seawall, but not much else.
When I reached the seawall I started looking around, but other than Marsh Harriers, there wasn't many other raptors to look at, so I turned my attention to the saltmarsh, where the first thing I saw was a rather pale looking gull sat in the marsh, feeding on something. The gull immediately took flight and flew past me. 1st winter Iceland Gull! It's been ages since I found an Iceland Gull in Norfolk and this bird showed really well, flying round and heading back to the same spot a number of times. It stayed around for about 25 minutes, after which it flew off west towards Brancaster Staithe.

The day ended well too, as the Northern Harrier turned up finally at Thornham (presumably on a pre-roost feeding sortie), so I made the short journey there, entertained on the way by Stan Colleymore's 'mental' on the radio as Aston Villa scored an injury time goal to bring the score back to 3-3. The Northern Harrier was showing well on the saltmarsh when I got to Thornham. It still flies with one of its legs dangling and still likes the look of those Redshanks on Thornham Marsh. I'd go for turkey myself though, given the choice.
Happy New Year!

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