Saturday, 26 January 2013

Big Garden Birdwatch and a missed opportunity

The thaw has arrived. Even early this morning the light overnight snow was turning to rain. I was up earlyish as usual (livestock leave little room for long lie-ins) and whilst getting dressed I happened to glance out of the bedroom window just as half a dozen swans flew over the house. The only optical equipment in the bedroom is a scope so I raced downstairs to the kitchen, grabbed a pair of bins and rushed to the front window but of the swans there was no sign. Heading back upstairs I scanned the marshes in case they had doubled back but again nothing. I suspected they were Bewicks or Whoopers, both an irregular occurrence on the house list but my views were too brief to be sure of either.
The sun was out for once but birding was off the menu with things to do. As I headed off to Beccles with younger daughter to buy a birthday present for her friend, husband was instructed to do the Big Garden Birdwatch. When I got home 2 hours later he was 40 minutes in to it having first topped up the feeders and scattered vast quantities of feed on the ground for good measure. Again I missed the highlight, a Lesser Redpoll, which appeared on the feeders almost as soon as he started his count and disappeared almost as quickly. In his hour he recorded 101 birds of 20 species most of which I saw too in the last 20 minutes apart from a Coal Tit. The Blackbird count only peaked at 7 birds in total but almost as if they had been hiding, shortly after the count had finished the numbers shot back up to 12 birds.
We had to spend the afternoon getting more round hay bales out to the sheep in various fields as the grass was still covered with snow so it wasn't until 3.45 that I checked my phone for local bird news Tweets to find that there were 6 Whooper Swans 3 miles down the valley at Somerleyton. Hmmm.
I spent the next hour staking out the marshes just in case they decided to go for a fly but to no avail. Although I drew a blank with swans I had a distant flock of Pink-feet, a panicked flock of 21 Fieldfares flushed off the marsh by a Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, an immature male Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Barn Owl so not a bad 60 minutes at all.

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