Saturday, 24 February 2018

Santon Warren, Kelling, Euston, Happisburgh and Waveney Forest/Haddiscoe Island

Christian and I started the day at a tranquil Santon Warren, enjoying the array of common birds in the crisp winter air, a singing Reed Bunting and the drumming of Great Spotted Woodpeckers reminding us that spring is still trying to uncoil. A group of eight Bramblings sharing a tree with a Lesser Redpoll, a Siskin and other common birds was a real treat. We walked along the river, seeing three Marsh Tits and two Grey Wagtails before reaching our target area. After seeing a Goshawk fly over, we enjoyed listening to the female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and drumming, managing flight views and a distant look as it fed in the trees. This is the first that I have seen in almost a year! Satisfied, we moved on, calling in briefly at some woodland in Euston, Suffolk, where we heard a Marsh Tit.

Next up was Kelling. We hadn't timed our visit particularly well as the farmer had started working his field, favoured by the redpoll flock, just before we arrived. We eventually tracked a small group of redpolls down though, including at least three Mealy Redpolls and four Lesser Redpolls but there was no suggestion of a Coues's Arctic. Still, it has been a while since I've seen a Mealy and it was a lifer for Christian so we were happy.

Mealy Redpoll at Kelling

At a breezy and cold Happisburgh, scanning the fields south of the lighthouse resulted in us locating the seven-strong flock of Shorelarks, the biggest flock I've ever seen, and we enjoyed distant views as they busily fed before returning to Waveney Forest for another go at locating the Rough-legged Buzzard on the adjacent Haddiscoe Island. This time we were successful. Another birder, Ian, had picked out the bird on the ground miles away and we patiently waited for it to fly to roost, which it duly did, passing quite close to us and allowing superb views. The Barn Owl from yesterday put in a brief appearance but I was even more pleased to pick out a Merlin sat on a gate out on the marsh - another bird I don't see often enough! A Water Rail squeeled from behind us. On the drive back from this wonderful trip we were tuned in to Radio Two as always and Christian was delighted when Liza Tarbuck read out his text detailing our success!

Shorelarks at Happisburgh
adult male Rough-legged Buzzard flying to its Waveney Forest roost