The weekend and time at last for some patch work, around lambing sheep and work that is.
Saturday started well with twin ram lambs born to my daughters favourite and our best show ewe, Mary. Things went a bit downhill when Saturday morning surgery threw 4 euthanasias at me. It was a relief to finish work and get home for the early afternoon.
Scanning the marshes from the bedroom a ringtail Hen Harrier drifted by heading south, always a great bird to see. We get just a few records annually at most, unlike Marsh Harrier which we see daily so it was a good bird for my patchwork challenge list. There followed a proper birding slog around a soggy patch which was hard work with birds seemingly keeping low in the dull, overcast conditions. Winter birds in particular appeared to be thin on the ground but I managed a total of 41 species, the highlights being a Woodcock flushed out of our alder wood, a singing Cetti's and a mixed flock of Siskin and Redpoll.
Checking the ewes in the evening I was rewarded with a flyover calling Wigeon, a duck that has become surprisingly scarce here in recent years. I think they've all been sucked in to the RSPB reserves either at Buckenham or Berney although conditions look ideal for them out here too.
Sunday dawned with a beautiful sunrise and 2 new lambs born with a bit of assistance. It was a lovely clear morning. These sunny days in midwinter always bring the rooks back to their rookery for a brief visit almost as if they're just checking everything is OK or maybe staking an early claim to a particular nesting spot and today was no exception. There was much chatty cawing going on in the tops of the trees. With nothing looking imminent in the lambing field there was time to head over to Haddiscoe Island and the New Cut which I have included in my Patchwork Challenge area.
Husband is doing Foot It this January so he had already plodded off on the 2.5 mile walk across the marshes towards the New Cut. With less time as I didn't want to leave the ewes unattended for too long I went the easy way and drove but not before I had heard a Mistle Thrush singing, a species he's not guaranteed to get in January.
Reaching the New Cut first I trudged out to our favoured vantage point about half way along the cut. There was a large flock of Pink-feet not far out on the marsh, a distant Short-eared Owl and 5 Bearded Tits in the reeds along the river but no sign of the Rough-legged Buzzard or Great White Egret. Husband eventually arrived having been rewarded for his effort with a small flock of Waxwings, Kingfisher and Yellowhammer. As if on cue the GW Egret walked out of some distant reeds in to the open then quickly out of sight. Of the Rough-leg there was still no sign. Intensive scanning produced more SE Owls including a much closer one and a Little Grebe on the river was another good patch bird. It was getting time for me to head back home but the GW Egret decided to put on a good show by flying out of hiding and into full view. Meanwhile husband had set off further down the Cut with the aim of getting to some hidden pools in the far distance in the hope of diving ducks, when he phoned me to say he had the Rough-leg. Deciding the sheep would be fine I route-marched to where he was standing to see the Rough-legged Buzzard perched in a field close to the Cut screened from our previous position by a stand of reeds. We had excellent, much closer views than most before the bird took off, flew the width of the Island and seemed to disappear either into or over Waveney Forest. Rushing anxiously home I found nothing whatsoever had happened in the lambing field ( and still nothing 7 hours later) but the mists rolled in across the marsh putting an end to the sunshine and birding.
My patchwork challenge list now stands at 64 sp and 75 points, a good start to the year.