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Friday 31 December 2021

Happy New Year!

A beautiful sunset in Broadland tonight, with Venus just peeking from beneath the cloud belt...
Happy New Year to regular readers, and anyone who chances upon the blog: let's hope for clear skies and good birds in 2022!

Last birds of 2021

Despite the gloomy weather, I thought I'd have a final run around local spots, more for exercise than anything else. As I drove north on Woodbastwick Road, I was delighted to see a Little Owl perched on a manure heap right by the road: one to keep an eye on!

First stop - in the pouring rain - was Ranworth Broad. A scan of the few Greylags failed to reveal yesterday's reported Lesser Whitefront: apart from an attractive hybrid of some sort, a  lone Pink-footed Goose was the only odd-man-out. (I wonder if we have another case of the 'Three White Storks' here?) A walk out to the floating visitor centre added Siskin and a very mealy-looking Redpoll, while a pair of Kingfishers were good to see.

A move to Cantley was fairly unproductive, the only Geese being thousands of Pink-feet and a few Canadas. Last notable bird was a nicely-marked Buzzard near Hassingham. So that's it: 195 for the year: a low total, but some cracking birds!

Sun and Chili Corals

These two families of coral are notoriously difficult to keep, but since they are so beautiful (and colorful) we felt it was worth the effort. It's like being parents again: both corals only feed at night, so one or other of us has either to stay up late or get up early. In the darkness their polyps open to feed: we use a turkey baster or pair of tweezers to offer them pieces of fish or copepods. So far, so good!

Thursday 30 December 2021

Finally! A White-fronted Goose for 2021

Hard to believe that it's taken me until the penultimate day of the year to catch up with White-fronted Goose! It appeared with a group of Canadas while I was photographing the extremely distant Taiga Beans. A couple of really pleasant birders (one local, one from Vancouver) kindly pointed out both: thanks, gents!

Two Peregrines took occasional sorties across the marsh, putting up several hundred Lapwings each time they did so. From Buckenham I moved on to Thurne and then Ludham looking for Cranes and owls: three of the former flew in to feed distantly near St Benet's Abbey.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

A possible addition to the year list?

Linda and I had to visit Wayford Bridge near Stalham this afternoon, so we decided to carry on around the loop to Walcott and back through Waxham, Horsey and Acle.

A very brief seawatch at Horsey gave us lovely close views of a Sanderling (and lots of Turnstones, of course!) Best bird, though, was a large diver flying north: I reckon it was a Great Northern...

Near Ingham the now resident herd of Bewick's Swans were in their usual field: probably around thirty birds. (No Whoopers today)

Monday 27 December 2021

Best birds of 2021

Once again, it's time to reflect on the highlights of a year's birding: where did the last twelve months go?

It looks like the ongoing bad weather and the decision to restrict my birding within the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk will prevent me reaching 200 species this year: the first time since I started the blog ten years ago. However, as is increasingly the case, there have been some super avian  encounters in an otherwise poor year. Expected species I missed include Redstart, Yellow-browed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Bonxie, Temminck's Stint and Puffin!

Linda and I didn't take any out-of-county birding breaks - no Bempton Cliffs, Farnes or Pembrokeshire this year - and the Autumn winds were generally in the wrong direction. Covid has meant that our businesses - meteorites and space-themed jewellery - have all been online, as have the twenty or so lectures I've given: this has kept our travel to a bare minimum.

However: the following photos are a reflection of the fact that Norfolk (and Suffolk!) can still be relied on to produce terrific birds...

Grasshopper Warbler, Strumpshaw Fen

Bee-eaters: Gt Yarmouth

Glossy Ibises: Hickling

Pacific Golden Plover, Cley

Roseate Terns, Cley

Roller, Icklingham

Black-winged Stilt, Hickling

Long-billed Dowitcher, Potter Heigham

Caspian Tern: Potter Heigham

Ring Ouzel, Blakeney

Garganey: Strumpshaw Fen

Short-toed Lark, Weybourne

Honey Buzzard: Hemblington Church

Black Guillemot: Cley

Iceland Gull, Cley

Barred Warbler: Cley

Cattle Egrets: Martham