Sunday 19 January 2014

Back to Foot-it

It was back to 'footing-it' today. With this being the penultimate weekend and my total still at a measly forty two, I had some catching up to do.
The rain cleared about 10am and as I headed up through Eaton Park, it was turning out to be a fine morning.
I checked the feeders at UEA and the first bird there was a female Brambling, after spending thirty minutes there I had a total of three Brambling but no Mealy Redpoll. Still, that was okay. The Broad itself was quiet, but in the woods on the far side I had Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. In general birds were very active with several songsters taking advantage of the mild weather. A Mistle Thrush sang from the top of one of the University buildings and Blue Tits and Great Tits were spending a lot of time chasing each other around with some already displaying. I checked the plantation above the rugby pitches for Crossbills but no joy and then made my way back to check the southern edge of the Broad. Unlike New Year's Day, there was no Gadwall or Great Crested Grebe, best there were three Cormorants and a bunch of Black-headed Gulls having a wash.
I headed over to the boardwalk and began to make my way along the track beside the river Yare that runs into Eaton village. Unfortunately the surface was extremely muddy so I spent more time trying to avoid falling over than actually doing any birding. I had hoped for Cetti's Warbler (or an outside chance of Goosander) along this stretch but reached Eaton with nothing added to the list.

River Yare between Eaton and UEA - 19th January 2014

It might not sound like it, but by this stage I'd covered a lot of ground. My target now was to make it over towards Eaton Common for 3pm in the hope of connecting with a Barn Owl that Nick Watmough had there last week.
As I reached the level-crossing I heard a distant mewing call and just had a few seconds to see a Common Buzzard (with a full looking crop) disappear over the tops of the trees on the far side of the common and out of sight. Oddly, my first BOP of the foot-it challenge. There was still plenty of light so I ambled along the path towards Keswick Mill. I had one time hopes for Kingfisher here (having seen them from the bridge in October) but the water is very fast-moving right now. However a pair of Grey Wagtails were compensation.

No Barn owls but nice evening light near Keswick Mill, Norwich - 19th January 2014

From 3pm to 4.45pm I spent all that time scanning for Barn Owl but to no avail. As the cold set in I finished off the last of my hot coffee. By 4.30pm I was chilled to the bone. I gave it ten more minutes before calling it a day. I had gone just two steps when a Cetti's Warbler gave me a burst of song from the ditch in front. I even managed a brief glimpse of the bird before it broke cover and flew up the path to resume its scolding song from another patch of thick vegetation.
When I got home I tucked into some Thai soup that Polina had prepared. The bird's eye chili that I accidentally bit into has certainly warmed me up.
So, my total goes to 49. Not great, but the exercise has been fantastic, its great to explore the local neighbourhood and dig out some of the things it has to offer. Despite at least three night time strolls for Tawnys, I'm still without any Owls. Siskins are eluding me as are Snipe, Woodcock and most birds of prey but Cetti's was bird of day and I still have one more weekend to go.

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