This marsh is a vast area. I have a feeling I have been here before some years ago and then had entered by a different route, but I may be wrong. We had hoped for Bean Geese here but they appear to have moved on. We did find the much talked about Lesser White-Fronted Goose. It was amongst Greylag Geese, or at least near to them, and chasing them off at times! This would be a lifer for me. The whole area was teaming with Wigeon which seemed oblivious to our presence. Waders seen included Golden Plover and Snipe. A small flock of Barnacle Geese landed in the area. I was the only one of the four who saw a Bearded Tit rise and then quickly drop back into the reed bed. That made up for the handful of species I had missed on the trip.
By lunch time we were being drawn to the Ferruginous Duck at Cockshoot Broad. The problem was that no one seemed to know where this broad was and it couldn’t be found on the map. I suggested we ask someone! Maybe I broke some twitching rule here as it seemed that idea was not to be taken up. Instead the technology amongst the group was used. Technology doesn’t always work however and whist it did take us within maybe a few hundred yards of where we needed to be it had not taken into account the river which we couldn’t cross. So the map was reverted to and a drive a several miles took us to the opposite side of the river where we had initially arrived. A walk then took us to the broad. There was no sign of Ferruginous Duck. However we did get good sightings of a Bittern, Kingfisher and Otters (not everyone saw the Otters) before being told that the Ferruginous Duck had flown down river. We did eventually catch up with it on our return walk and had a decent sighting of the illusive Ferruginous Duck.
By now it was too late to stick to the plan of watching for a better sighting of the Northern Harrier. We did spend sometime watching for Golden Pheasant with no luck. However during the watch we did have close up views of a Muntjac Deer and a Marsh Tit. On leaving the reserve we found posts had been locked to block the entrance! We were saved by the small car and made off back to the B+B.
The following morning was planned out to allow plenty of time for another crack at getting a better view of the Northern Harrier. Before that however we had a long distance sighting of a Rough Legged Buzzard near Holkham when we stood on the drive down to the pine area, Queen Anne's Drive I think. Several more Marsh Harriers where seen this morning. Three hundred plus White Fronted Geese gave us excellent views as they were in the fields near the road. A great sight.
We then stood in the quite strong, but warm wind hoping for Northern Harrier. Those who wait are often rewarded and we were. I picked the bird up as it seemed as usual to appear from no where and this time it headed straight for us and past us towards Titchwell. In doing so, it gave a great sighting.
We ended up back at Titchwell. By now the wind was really picking up strength but despite this we did take a look at the sea. There were large rafts of Common Scoter quite close in. Red Necked Grebe and Gannet were both seen but neither by me.
We left for the long journey home thinking that over a weekend we had done very well indeed. A short stop at the Golden Triangle brought nothing.
By my counting we had reached a count of 109 bird species. Even taking into account the few I missed I personally managed to score over the 100 mark which included 32 new species for the year list. Ferruginous Duck and American Wigeon are new UK ticks for me. Northern Harrier will be also, once it is split from Hen Harrier, which seems very likely. Lesser White-Fronted Goose would be a lifer it were a wild bird and I suppose that is the question. However I enjoyed seeing it out there what ever that decision maybe.
My top five birds over the weekend, in no particular order are Northern Harrier, American Wigeon, Shore Lark, Snow Bunting and Bittern. The Lesser White Front would be in there if I could be certain it was wild.
We arrive home to find it had been raining up here! Must admit I knew that, as I had been informed. Lucky in Norfolk this weekend I think.