Sunday 10 February 2013


Sunday morning was dull, wet and cold but having been indoors all week at work I really wanted to head out. It was midday before I got going and with a 3pm kick-off for Ireland versus England I didn't have time to go too far.
Strumpshaw Fen is only fifteen minutes away so I decided to spend a few hours there.
I made my way to the first hide stopping briefly at the feeders opposite reception. There was certainly plenty of action there. Numerous Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinches crowded around the feeders. A Marsh Tit would drop in from time to time, darting in quickly to pick off a sunflower seed before dashing away again. Once or twice a fine Nuthatch stopped by for a quick snack.
I spoke to another birder who said that Brambling had been seen a week ago but none as far as he knew today. With plenty of Chaffinch around I felt there must be one somewhere.
I spent a little time in the first hide, where good numbers of Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and Coot were feeding in front of the hide. A fine ring-tail Hen Harrier was the first bird of prey I saw, followed soon after by a first calendar year Marsh Harrier and shortly after that by a male Sparrowhawk dashing past right in front of hide. A Bittern had been reported from earlier from the fen hide so I took off over there. But before I left I had brief views of a female Brambling in the region of first hide.
Over at the fen hide however it was pretty quiet save for a few Teal and two Mute Swans. If I wanted to get home in time for kick-off it meant I only had forty minutes to spare and I was starting to think about trying to get better views of the Brambling.
So, I turned on my heels and headed back. And I was glad I did, back at the feeders there was now one female Brambling knocking around. The light was pretty poor but within thirty minutes I managed to get decent views of at least one female (possibly two) and one male Brambling. They were a little hesitant to come to the feeders and they never joined the Chaffinches on the deck but I did manage one or two decent shots in that time.

Female Brambling, Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk - 10th February 2013

Male Brambling, Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk - 10th February 2013

Female Brambling, Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk - 10th February 2013
Time was running out for me though, I made it back home just as Owen Farrell kicked off proceedings at the Aviva stadium. In hindsight I should have stayed at Strumpshaw. England deserved their first win in Dublin since 2003 and look likely now to take the Grand Slam.

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