Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A day in Norfolk

Tuesday 4th January 2010

When John Terry rang up to see if I fancied a day in Norfolk principally to have a look at the Lesser white fronted Goose at Cantley I was a little reluctant. The weather was a bit iffy and the bird's credentials had been cause for some debate, but a day in Norfolk usually produces some good birding whatever, so off we went.

On arrival at Cantley we were met by the local Barn Owl, which was a nice start to the day but we missed the Solar eclipse being focussed on the geese. As we walked towards the railway crossing a skein flew towards us. The last but one bird looked distinctly smaller and we kept our eye on it as the flock landed on the marsh directly in front of us. It didnt take too long before we picked out the Lesser white front amongst the Taiga Bean geese. After scrutinising the bird for some time we moved on, eager to get to the north Norfolk coast. Holkham was the first stop but as we parked on Lady Ann's drive we could see a large flock of geese fly off into the distance. We carried on the the hides though to look for the Ross's goose and Rough legged Buzzard's reported earlier. No luck, there were very few geese still around. We did see Marsh Harrier and Peregrine and got good views of a ring tailed Hen Harrier on the walk back to the car.
We had only just resumed our journey when we stopped on the A149 just west of Holkham marshes. A couple of birders were clearly looking at something quite intently. On enquiry they had been looking at not one but two Rough legged Buzzards but they were currently out of view. It wasnt too long however before a juvenile Rough legged Buzzard could be seen, albeit briefly, perched on top of a hedge.
A few flakes of snow fell as we moved on to Thornham for our next quarry the 'Northern' Harrier. There were about 10 birders at Thornham habour scanning the salt marshes. Amazingly the bird was on the ground about half way out giving occasional wing flaps so we were clearly in the right place. It was just a question of waiting. We didnt have to wait too long before this American version of the Hen Harrier flew towards the habour and gave excellent views for several minutes before moving to quarter the Reed beds to the west. At last it was time to relax with a drop of Pork pie before heading for home. The weather had been good and we had seen some interesting birds - a very enjoyable day.


  1. Hi Bob, sounds like a fantastic day! Am off there at the end of the week for hols. What is the best time of day to look for the Northern Harrier at Thornham Harbour?

  2. Hi Kay, Nice to hear from you. We saw the bird from Thornham habour during the early/mid afternoon, it covers a wide area along the coast,but it does seem to favour the salt marshes between Thornham and Titchwell where it spends a good deal of time on the ground.

  3. Thanks Bob. I was very lucky to see the Northern Harrier well twice yesterday. First at Thornham Harbour and then at Titchwell, where it eventually came over the main path before heading off east!!

    Got the two Rough-legs today as well, a lifer for me. Damn, I love Norfolk!

    Hope you're enjoying your birthday Bob. Take care.