Monday, 1 April 2013

The long Good Friday

Good Friday got off to a bad start. At quarter past midnight I was phoning a vet to assist a ewe who had a very dead lamb stuck tight, which try as I might I couldn't deliver. ( Sensitive readers please skip to the next paragraph.) The lamb had a massive head and after much pulling during which a front leg came off, the vet had to resort to crushing the lambs skull before he could get the lamb out and  also its dead twin behind. A sad result but at least the ewe was going to be alright, if a little bruised for a few days. The vet finally left at 1.45am. Further angst followed when I went out at 6am to find a ewe who had lambed another dead lamb. This time it looked like the membranes hadn't cleared from the lambs mouth and it had been unable to breathe when it tried to take ir's first breath.

Feeling pretty low I walked around the marshes checking the state of the ground (drying out) and the state of the grass (still not growing) as I need to start turning stock out in a few days. Walking across one of our furthest marshes I flushed a Short-eared Owl from the edge of one of the dykes, the first on these marshes all winter. I followed it as it quartered gracefullyacross a field then disappeared behind some reeds. It flushed 7 Snipe as it did so. Scanning across to try and find it again a smart male Hen Harrier flew across my field of view. Things were looking up.
In the afternoon we went to Sea Palling with friends who were staying the weekend. We stopped just north of Brograve farm and quickly located 16 Common Cranes feeding with a flock of sheep. On stepping out of the car our friends quickly discovered how cold the Norfolk coast could be in a brisk easterly wind so instead of heading for the beach we scanned several gull flocks in fields by the road hoping for a Glaucous Gull from the relative comfort of the car. Having no luck we had no choice but to head for the exposed beach. We met several birders coming away who had seen 3 of the beasts but as we set foot on the sea wall we saw a flock of large gulls heading off in to the distance having been flushed by dog walkers. We scanned the remaining gulls repeatedly with no success so walked further down the beach to check more distant flocks. At this point it started snowing. One of our group seemed to be heading for hypothermia but luckily a 1st winter Glaucous Gull appeared over the sea wall and drifted right over our heads to land on the beach warming everyone up. After enjoying the bird a rapid retreat was beaten to the relative warmth of the car and home where all was peaceful in the lambing field.

There's a Glaucous Gull in this picture - honest!

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