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Biggest Twitch
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An eventful day

As we stepped out of the door we were greeted by the marvellous sound of Pink footed Geese! The sky was full of squadrons of v formation geese, calling wildly as they swept east right over us, thousands of birds.

Today we headed south towards the Broads east of Norwich, we first explored the lovely river valley below Wymondham Abbey. No sign of the recent Great white Egret here but we enjoyed a sunshine walk along side the river. A Green Woodpecker really showed off, allowing scope filling views, a Fox posed in the sun, Jays swooped along the river, and a Great spotted Woodpecker drummed in the Spring like weather.

A short drive took us to Whitlingham Country Park on the outskirts of Norwich, Barry was out of the mini-bus and off birding while everyone else queued for the one loo that was working! Ruth's phone was soon ringing, Barry had the target bird, Slavonian Grebe! We soon joined him over looking the large lake and yes, there was a winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe fishing near the opposite bank. The light was perfect and the Leica APO 82mm scope gave great views of this scarce visitor. Plenty of wildfowl here, Great crested Grebes, another Great spotted Woodpecker and a gang of Long tailed Tits.

Buckenham Marshes RSPB reserve next and we were very lucky indeed, a flock of Taiga Bean Geese were in view from just yards beyound the level crossing by the car park. On previous visits we have walked miles to find them! These large, orange-legged and -billed geese were feeding near Canada and Pink footed Geese, great for comparison. A flock of Barnacle Geese were also feeding here along with thousands of Wigeon! A Hen Harrier floated over the reed fringed river.

Horsey was the next venue and we stopped to admire a huge flock of Pink footed Geese in roadside fields, an amazing sight. More Barnacle Geese here and with them a dainty Ross's Goose. This white goose is of unknown origin, is it a vagrant or an escape? Either way a lovely bird to see. Lunch was very welcome and soon vanished!

Now we turned our attention to some big birds, Common Cranes, never easy to see despite their size. We scanned fields and marshes but no luck, male Marsh Harrier and Peregrine entertained us. The roost site at Hickling was looking like our best bet but the weather was on the turn with spots of rain in the wind, perhaps a couple of hours out in the open wasn't looking like a good bet.

Common Crane

Suddenly Ruth was shouting "Cranes! Flying!" and there over the reeds four massive Common Cranes slowly flapped across the grey sky, wow! As we watched they went behind a wood and were lost to view, we jumped in the bus and set off in pursuit. Sadly no sign of them, we tried to make some distant sheep into cranes but failed. Then we saw them flying, not sheep these, and again they dropped behing trees and we were off again! Pulling into a farm field entrance we jumped out and scanned the fields, nothing. We were about to move on when a Crane was spotted walking out from behind a hedge, brilliant! Then another, and another, and another! All four in view on the ground, fantastic stuff. Calling Cranes, hang on there must be more, and there were, eventually we had 14 Common Cranes lined up in the open and we soaked up some of the best views we have ever had of these majestic birds.

Very, very pleased we went back to mini-bus, jumped in and set off for home, we didn't get very far, about and inch in fact! The wheels span and sank into the mud! We were stuck, well and truly! Much pushing and shoving and we were still stuck, a very nice local chap offered help but no we were still stuck! Thankfully a very nice local farmer came to the rescue and towed us back onto the tarmac with his trusty landrover, thank you so much sir!

A little muddy and a tad embarrassed, but still very pleased with our crane views, we headed back to Burham Overy Staithe. We finished the day off with a superb meal at "The Globe" in Wells-next-the-Sea, and raised a glass to our rescuers at Horsey, what nice folk!

Looking forward to another eventful day tomorrow....


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