Sunday, 13 April 2014

White-tailed Eagle at Lynford and Going Ape in the forest

If you read yesterdays blog you will be aware that family commitments kept me from Flamborough and the Crag Martin. However Go Ape is in the middle of Thetford Forest and close to several excellent birding sites and I couldn't see why we shouldn't combine a bit of birding with our visit, much to my two daughters disgust. Lynford Arboretum was our chosen destination and on our arrival several Common Crossbills and the contentious two-barred bird were present (of which there is an excellent discussion here). Typically, there were 2 photographers standing close by the drinking pool, way in front of the assembled birders, right out in the open.
We had a wander down to the horse paddocks seeing Yellowhammer, Nuthatch and Grey Wagtail before returning to the visitor hut hoping for more crossbills. Suddenly my husband said "There's a large raptor coming overhead". Looking up to the northeast I picked up the bird straight away. I see Buzzards and Marsh Harriers all the time at home and this was clearly neither, the bird was massive with huge broad wings, slightly wedged tail and a relatively long neck. This could only be a White-tailed Eagle especially when its huge size was confirmed as it was mobbed by a seemingly diminutive Buzzard. We manged to alert about 4 other birders and watched it for 5 minutes or so as it circled slowly just to one side of the sun before it drifted off to the south west.
Coincidentally a White-tailed Eagle had been reported 3 miles from our house this morning, it must have been following us!
Time was up and my husband dropped me and the girls off at Go Ape (paying £2.10 for the privilege of driving in and out of the car park) before he headed off to Santon Downham. I have to admit that Go Ape is actually worth the cost with my youngest daughter having an "awesome" time. My eldest daughter had to be virtually prised from a tree to make the first crossing but soon conquered her fear of heights and was climbing rope ladders, balancing precariously across shaky walkways and hurling herself down massive zip wires. Only at the very end when we were in the very highest trees on some of the scariest runs did her nerves return and she started clinging to the trees again. I'm not too keen on heights either but ended up taking the difficult route and doing the ultimate 'Tarzan Swing' a hair-raising initial plummet earthwards before the ropes catch you and swing you in to a large net strung high between two trees. I'm sure I heard Firecrests calling along the route but was never able to see one.
My husband meanwhile had  excellent views of a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Santon Downham and at least 200 Brambling before having to pay another £2.10 to pick us up but a great day was had by all..

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