Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A traverse of Norfolk. 13.3.2015.

Out early to the RSPB Lakenheath Reserve arriving before other visitors! Always a favourite, this reserve has its own particular kind of magic.  Slowly walked through the reserve to the farthest observation point overlooking the vast reedbed. Things were rather quiet at first, but a Barn Owl hunting in full sunlight, 5 Jays noisily fleeing for cover and an accompaniment from the occasional song of a Cetti's Warbler enhanced the day. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed loudly nearby and the air was filled with the calls from several pairs of Grey lag Geese. At least six Marsh Harriers floated around above the reedbed with one male in display. Two separate pairs of Common Cranes flew in and settled into different areas, a Bearded Tit showed several times and a head on view of a Bittern transferring across to a different section all occurred within minutes. Birdwatching at its best.  A Water Rail squealing nearby sharpened the senses, Curlew "bubbled" away in the background and Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall all showed well. Stationed on the  embankment overlooking the large lagoon I managed to see one of three Great White Egrets present in a pool at the back. By now it was late morning and breakfast/lunchtime called.

I went off to the Lakenheath Military Airfield viewing area to enjoy both brunch and whatever activity was in store. A few fighter aircraft  (F 15's ? ) returned from practice flights and then came the surprise.  Amidst noise, vibration and palpable tumult a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy came into view.  These are the largest cargo planes the USA Airforce operates and they are huge.  A big bird indeed, but one that slowly and gently moved to its allotted bay.

Moving north into central Norfolk I parked up at a well known raptor vantage  point. For the first couple of hours things were rather slow , although several Buzzards, Kestrel, a Red Kite and a couple of Sparrowhawk put in an appearance.  Paul Stancliffe also arrived and we had  a good catch up session exchanging information, aka "gossip", before things suddenly improved. Both a male and female Goshawk came into view. The male spent most of the time circling around, but the female plied back and forth over a stretch of woodland and gave tremendous views.  Time and again the white undertail feathers flashed in the sunlight , even at mid distance, and added to the spectacle. All too soon it was over and not a suspicion of the excitement remained!!

Continuing on I spent the last part of the afternoon at Stiffkey overlooking the saltmarsh. Little Egrets, Curlew and Brent Geese were in evidence, a female Marsh Harrier flew east,  as did a male Hen Harrier, previous to last light which heralded my need to move on to my base at Cley for the next few days, the Three Swallows Public House.

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