A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Dave and I headed up to Burnham Overy for first light.  There was another birder and his family ahead of us having walked down from the road a bit faster than us but we were surprised to get a message about 2 Rough-legged Buzzards still present and a Great White Egret west of the seawall.  The only broadwing raptors we'd seen by that time were a couple of Marsh Harriers and the only egret we'd seen was a Little Egret, west of the seawall.  I could conceive that the guys ahead of us might have picked up the Rough-legs but they hadn't had much opportunity to see a Great White Egret west of the seawall when we wouldn't have been able to see it as well.  And we had been looking!  Of course it was possible - we had spent time looking at goose flocks etc. and if it hadn't been showing for long we could have missed it - but I don't mind admitting we were more than a little skeptical.

We'd seen 2 Barn Owls on the way up (Brisley and South Creake) and two more were hunting over fields here.  A Goldeneye was in the channel (a second one there later) and another was in the reedy pool.  There were lots of Pink-footed Geese showing well but all I could pick out from among them were 2 Barnacle Geese and 4 White-fronted Geese.  From the dunes we saw a drake Pintail fly west with a flock of Wigeon and a Rough-legged Buzzard was eventually seen distantly over Holkham Pines.

From the east end of the dunes 2 Velvet Scoters were seen, well away from the Common Scoter flock.  A flock of 6 Bullfinches and a Woodcock were flushed into Holkham Pines and as we walked back we got much better views of a Rough-legged Buzzard as it flew along the dunes.  From near the reedy pool we could see Red Kite and 2 Ruff.

I checked a close group of Brent Geese and immediately saw that they contained a Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid.  

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, Burnham Overy, 1st January

Then I noticed that it seemed to be part of a family party consisting of it, an adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose and three juveniles.  The five birds were slightly apart from the rest of the flock and seemed to be associating with each other like a family party would, so it seems reasonable to assume that the juveniles were the offspring of the hybrid and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose - i.e. they were backcrossed (Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose) x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids.  Not that I would have been able to figure that out if they'd been alone!

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid with Dark-bellied Brent Goose and 3 presumed juvenile backcrossed (Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose) x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids, Burnham Overy, 1st January

We started heading west before deciding fish and chips at Wells would be a good bet, so turned round in Burnham Norton.  Pausing briefly in the car park for a quick scan proved very worthwhile.  A Pale-bellied Brent Goose was among the Brents and as I was watching that a fine male Hen Harrier flew past.  Apparent rufousy markings on the flanks may have been remnants of juvenile plumage as this seemed to be a second-year bird - the extent of black on the primaries seemed to rule out any optimistic thoughts that it might be a Northern Harrier.

Hen Harrier, Burnham Norton, 1st January

After meeting Dave and Jackie and eating fish and chips we headed off towards home, pausing briefly to look through the massive Brent flock between Binham and Hindringham.  Unfortunately the majority of birds quickly went out of view over the brow of the hill and most of the ones that were left were very distant, so we didn't give these as careful a look as we might have done.  Instead we headed off to our inland patch where we saw naff all.

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