Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Return of the Natives. 23.1.2013.

This was our final day within Norfolk before returning to South Yorkshire so we headed down to what, for both of us , has become somewhat of a favourite RSPB reserve, Lakenheath Fen. This is a success story of a major kind and serves to show what conservation expertise can achieve and what it is clearly capable of.

The long trudge out in the snow to the Common Crane viewing point would have been applauded by a cardiologist, but didn't feel particularly rewarding in a personal sense!! A highlight was disturbing a Chinese Water Deer close by to the path, which afforded great views, even to our being able to see the small antlers it sported. Numbers of Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare and the odd Song Thrush foraged determinedly within the woodland plantations and a couple of flocks of Goldfinch were in evidence. Despite the harsh weather small birds here were more obvious than in several other places and a female Merlin hunted some hapless group in the distance.

However, with Grey lag Geese, Cormorant, Magpie, Reed Bunting, odd Blue Tits , several Marsh Harriers and even reasonable views of a single Bittern being on offer there was no sign of our quarry, and even with endless layers of clothing, the relentless, and renowned (!), coldness of the Fens finally begins to bite!

Disgruntled and in need of a lift, a Crane perhaps?

And so we sat, stamped our feet, took coffee, called on St. Jude......but to no avail, of Common Cranes there was no sign! However, and to prove we at least were in the right place, the information board in the hide served to stiffen our resolve to visit on another occasion. After all, on every previous visit we'd been lucky and, given the circumstances, it was hardly surprising the birds were moving around a little.

Click on the photograph to enlarge the size and enable you to read the print.

The journey back to Sheffield was uneventful, provided an opportunity to celebrate successes and commiserate over failure. The weather forecast even promised a gradual improvement,  well it would , wouldn't it, now that we'd survived the worst and seen some great birds in the process. In passing, thanks too to Matthew for the sterling work he'd put in doing all the driving ( rallying even! ) during the whole period and making the trip possible.

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