Monthly Archives: December 2014

25th December 2014 – Season’s Greetings

With Best Wishes for Christmas and for a bird-filled 2015

Robin Titchwell 2014-05A Christmas Robin

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23rd-24th December – Out & About

No tours over Christmas, but after a few days catching up on admin and getting ready for the festive season, I managed to get out on a couple of days to do some birding, explore some different sites and make the most of some great winter weather.

Tuesday 23rd was clear and bright, so I headed up to the North Norfolk coast. First stop was at Wells. There were several hundred Brent Geese in the harbour, bathing and loafing, and a quick scan through them revealed one which was slightly different – a bit darker, with a more obvious white flank patch and quite well defined white collar. However, it was not striking enough to be a true Black Brant, and after a longer period of observation it was possible to see slate grey tones to the body plumage – it was one of the regular Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent hybrids. There have been up to three hybrids in the Wells area for many years now and in some lights they can look very convincing – a pitfall for the unwary. It is always a useful exercise to spend time watching them.

P1100504Black Brant hybrid – one of the regular Wells birds

A quick look in the woods at Wells revealed little but the regular tit flock. There were clearly lots of visitors up for the festive season taking their dogs for a walk on the beach or through the pines, so it was rather too disturbed.

At Holkham, there were several groups of Pink-footed Geese in the fields along Lady Anne’s Drive and a good number of Brent Geese as well. A short walk along the edge of the pines produced a pair of Goldeneye on Salts Hole and a Barn Owl enjoying an afternoon hunting session over the grazing marsh.

P1100515Goldeneye – this pair was on Salts Hole at Holkham

On the other side of the grazing marsh, opposite the church, a large group of geese was feeding on one of the grassy fields by the road. There were lots of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese, but in amongst them were also a small number of Eurasian White-fronted Geese. There were about 13 in total, scattered amongst the other geese – what appeared to be two family groups and a separate pair.

There were also lots of geese on the walk out at Burnham Overy. As well as the ever-present Pinkfeet, there were a couple of Barnacle Geese in amongst them. A group of Brent Geese was feeding on the grazing marsh beside the path and a quick scan through them revealed yet another Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent hybrid. This is also a regular returning bird, which can usually be seen here and has been coming back to exactly the same area for many years. It is possibly one of the most convincing Black Brant look-alikes from a distance, with a very bold white neck collar and flank patch, but spending some time up close to it always becomes clear that the body plumage is not dark enough and has grey tones to it and the collar is not quite right for a pure Brant. It was also fascinating to watch how its appearance changed with the light, with the grey tones becoming much more obvious in the late afternoon sun.

P1100545Black Brant hybrid – two in one day! This is the regular Burnham Overy bird

The large flock of Golden Plover put on their usual spectacular display, regularly flushing from the field for little apparent reason, swirling round for a minute or so before landing back in the grass where they blend in surprisingly well. Up on the seawall, a couple of Short-eared Owls were out hunting over the grazing marsh. It was great to spend some time watching them, the distinctive stiff-winged seesaw action of their wings rendering them instantly identifiable even at a distance. While watching one over towards the dunes, a Rough-legged Buzzard appeared in the air above it, hanging in the wind and hovering before drifting off towards the pines. A short while later, and with the light starting to fade, two Rough-legged Buzzards appeared in the sky together and swept round each other for a few seconds before heading off in different directions.

The walk back was accompanied by a spectacular sunset over the saltmarsh towards Burnham Overy Staithe. As I got back towards the car, the Pink-footed Geese started to fly back in from where they had been feeding on the fields inland. A couple of enormous flocks came in low overhead, each several thousand birds strong, in long lines and v-shaped skeins, accompanied a cacophony of high-pitched yelping. This is one of the sights of a Norfolk winter’s day – truly spectacular to see.

P1100576Sunset over Burnham Overy Staithe

With clear skies forecast for Christmas Eve, a quick trip to the Broads seemed a good option, to check out a few different sites. It was a beautiful morning. Walking down towards the marshes at Cantley, the hedgerow was alive with birds and a few Rooks sat around preening in the sunshine. There were lots of geese on the grazing marshes – mostly Pinkfeet but also a good count of at least 70 White-fronted Geese.

P1100583Rook – in wonderful morning light

The Rough-legged Buzzard at Halvergate has been showing very well recently, and as I was driving past, I could not resist a quick stop to watch it again. As usual, it was out hovering over the marshes, flashing its white tail base.

P1100593P1100592Rough-legged Buzzard – hovering over the marshes at Halvergate

A quick walk out along the north wall at Breydon Water added a few more birds to the day’s list in spectacular scenery. A ringtail Hen Harrier was out, quartering over the fields. A twittering call revealed a Snow Bunting flying past – it always seems slightly strange to see one away from the beach, over the fields. Several Rock Pipits flew up from the saltmarsh calling and also a flock of about 30 small finches. From their calls, it was clear that the latter consisted of a mixture of Linnets and Twite. About half of the group flew round overhead, out over the fields before coming back and landing in a hawthorn bush by the path – a quick count revealed at least 15 Twite and a single Linnet, before they flew off again.

P1100606Twite – this small flock perched up briefly by the seawall

A quick drive round via Horsey produced a couple of Common Cranes again feeding in one of the fields by the road. I couldn’t resist spending some time watching them.

P1100615Common Cranes – this pair was at Horsey again

I finished the day exploring the area around Martham. The Pink-footed Geese were coming off Heigham Holmes, a constant stream of small and larger groups and big skeins. A male Stonechat flicked across the path and landed in the reeds on the edge of the ditch. I spent the last of the light watching a pair of Barn Owls hunting silently over the marshes.

P1100626Barn Owl – a pair were hunting at dusk

16th December 2014 – Photographing Geese

A private tour again today. The request was to spend the day watching and photographing geese. There is no shortage of geese in Norfolk in the winter! Getting up close to them can sometimes be more of a challenge.

We went first to Salthouse, which was a convenient pale to start the day. This has been a good place for Brent Geese in recent weeks, and we were not disappointed. A large group of Dark-bellied Brent Geese was feeding on the grazing marsh by the Iron Road. A quick scan through them revealed the Black Brant which has been present for the last few weeks, though roaming up and down the coast and elusive at times. It’s much darker – almost black – body plumage and extensive white flank patch and collar meant it stood out obviously from the rest.

P1100364Black Brant – this very striking bird stood out amongst the Dark-bellieds

P1100359Black Brant – the white collar is extensive, across the neck under the chin

Also in the same flock was a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Whereas our regular Dark-bellieds come from Russia, and Black Brant from North America or Eastern Siberia, we get a few Pale-bellieds from Svalbard, Franz Josef Land or Canada every winter. It was  a great opportunity to compare three subspecies of Brent Goose in a single flock.

P1100384Pale-bellied Brent Goose – the near-white belly is obvious here

We spent some time watching the geese and particularly the Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Even though it was in the middle of a vast throng, it was clear that this bird had three juveniles accompanying it. It was also paired to a male Dark-bellied Brent Goose – a mixed pair, and the young birds appear to be hybrids between the two subspecies. This pairing is very rarely reported, given that the populations are typically geographically separated, but this pair has been returning for a couple of years now. It was particularly interesting to look at the young hybrids.

P1100380Pale-bellied & Dark-bellied Brent Goose pair & hybrid young

P1100339Pale-bellied Brent Goose – can you tell the 3 hybrid young from the others?

Also amongst the Brents was a small group of Pink-footed Geese. They were mostly in the longer grass and hard to see but one bird glimpsed occasionally appeared to have a neck collar. Eventually, it came out into view and we could read the letters on the grey collar – ‘THS’. A quick check back at base later revealed that I had actually seen this bird two years ago, nearby at Kelling! It was ringed as an adult male at Loch of Lintrathen in Angus on 16th December 2007, and had been seen in Norfolk over the winter of 2010/11 and in December 2012 at least.

IMG_2057Neck-collared Pink-footed Goose – I had seen ‘THS’ at Kelling in Dec’12!

From there, we moved on to Holkham. Most of the Pink-footed Geese spend the days feeding inland, on discarded sugar beet tops in recently harvested fields. A few remain at Holkham, loafing around on the grazing marshes. By carefully positioning the car, we were able to get close to a view and get some great photos.

P1100397

P1100457

P1100466Pink-footed Geese – great photographic opportunities at Holkham

There were fewer geese at the west end of Holkham, and most of those present appeared to be Greylags. However, a closer look through the geese revealed several White-fronted Geese hiding in the deeper vegetation out on the grazing marshes.

The days are short in the middle of winter, and the only other thing required today was a quick visit to see Snettisham. It seemed like a nice way to round off the day. Out on the Wash, there were enormous quantities of waders. Lots of Golden & Grey Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank & Turnstone. It was great to watch the swirling flocks. The Golden Plover were quick to take flight. However, whenever a raptor flew over, all the other birds took to the air. The odd Marsh Harrier flew over, but two young Peregrines spent some time chasing fruitlessly after various waders, putting them all up.

On the pits, amongst the feral Greylags, were lots of ducks – mostly Wigeon and Mallard, but a few Gadwall, Tufted Duck and also several Goldeneye. There were a number of Little Grebes and amongst them a single Black-necked Grebe – quite a rare bird in Norfolk and a nice one for the list. As the sun started to go down, we walked back to the car – fittingly, the backdrop was provided by the Pink-footed Geese flying out onto the Wash to roost.

15th December 2014 – The Broads for Gulls, Cranes, Swans & more

A private tour today to the Broads. The specific request was to photograph Mediterranean Gulls, and then to try to see some of the other local specialities. A relaxed start to the day was required, which meant we were battling slightly against the limited daylight hours at this time of year.

On the way, we stopped off briefly at Halvergate. We immediately located the Rough-legged Buzzard, perched in a bush out on the grazing marsh. It was looking particularly stunning in the morning light. It flew round a couple of times, hovering out over the grass for long periods and flashing its white tail base. Great views.

IMG_1981 IMG_1997Rough-legged Buzzard – this juvenile showed particularly well this morning

From there, we drove in to Great Yarmouth and down to the beach. Armed with two loaves of bread, we walked out onto the sand. There were already a few gulls loafing and sleeping, and we could immediately pick out several adult Mediterranean Gulls alongside the Black-headed Gulls. As soon as the bread started to be thrown, more gulls appeared from all directions. We could pick out all ages of Mediterranean Gull in the crowd -1st, 2nd and adult winters, the latter with a variety of different amounts of black on the head, and some birds which were probably in between. Many of the birds were colour-ringed – birds from various parts of Europe have been identified here based on their rings. We counted a bare minimum of 25 birds simultaneously at any one time, but there were far more present given the variety of individuals we could identify.

P1100222Mediterranean Gulls – 3 winter adults, with different head patterns

P1100166Mediterranean Gull – an adult winter, with pure white wing tips

P1100225Mediterranean Gull – 2nd winter, with duller bill and black in the wing tip

P1100179Mediterranean Gull – 1st winter, with black & brown in wings & tail

As it was the main target for the day, we spent most of the morning with the Mediterranean Gulls. From there, we made a detour via Cantley. We had not planned to go looking for the Taiga Bean Geese, as they have been rather elusive in recent days, but they were reported as present during the morning. Unfortunately, when we got there, two people were surveying out on the marshes exactly where the birds had been and only a small group of Pink-footed Geese were out on the marshes. We moved swiftly on.

P1100136Pink-footed Geese – we saw several large flocks today

We drove round via Horsey, stopping to check out the various flocks of geese. Two tall grey shapes on a bank close to the road required a rapid stop – a pair of Common Cranes. They are rarely as close to the road as this. We spent some time watching them (from the confines of the car – so as not to disturb them), feeding quietly and walking along the bank.

P1100305Common Crane – these two birds were close to the road at Horsey today

We left them as we found them. A little further on, beyond Sea Palling, we located the small group of wild swans which have been present for some days. There were more Bewick’s Swans than have been reported in previous days, 12 in all, along with 17 Whooper Swans, including a fair number of juveniles. It was great to see these two species side-by-side – to see the size difference between the much larger Whoopers and smaller Bewick’s, look closely at the structural differences and the amount of yellow on their respective bills. A really good ID exercise.

P1100333Whooper & Bewick’s Swans – this small mixed flock was near Sea Palling

By this stage, the light was starting to fade, so we decided to drive round to Hickling and walk out to see the roost at Stubb Mill. As we walked out, a Brambling called from the hedgerow. There were already a lot of Marsh Harriers sitting around in the bushes amongst the reeds. At one point, the majority of them took to the air and we counted at least 25 birds, but with a lot more arriving after that, we saw at least 35-40 birds go in to the roost.We also watched a ringtail Hen Harrier fly in, and later a male and the same or another ringtail. A Merlin flashed through, stopping briefly to interact with a Kestrel, before disappearing into the bushes. A Barn Owl spent much of the evening hunting back and forth over the grazing marsh in front of us.

We could hear Common Cranes bugling shortly after we arrived, but it took us a while to find them – a pair were out on the grazing marshes, and eventually stepped out from behind the bushes. They stood out in the fields for some time, allowing us to watch them through the scopes, before flying off. It was not until it started to get dark that birds started to fly in to roost – we saw 5 birds fly past before we left. The way back was accompanied by more bugling – a fantastic backdrop to the walk. When we got back, a couple of Woodcock flew over the car park to round off an excellent day.

P1100337Sunset at Stubb Mill

12th December 2014 – Winter Specialities on the Coast

A private tour today in North Norfolk. We were hoping to catch up with a few of the winter specialities and see some Pink-footed Geese. We certainly did see some geese! And we had a really good day besides, with a lot of other good birds.

We started the day at Salthouse. A small flock of Brent Geese was feeding right by the Beach Road, so we sat in the car for a while to watch them at close quarters. There were lots of stripy-backed juveniles and lots of squabbles between the different families. Lurking amongst the regular Russian Dark-bellieds was a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose, possibly from Franz Josef Land or Svalbard. However, there was no sign with this group of the Black Brant which has been here regularly for the last few weeks.

P1100101Pale-bellied Brent Goose – with the Dark-bellieds at Salthouse

We walked out along the beach. A good selection of ducks was out on the pools – Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and a single Shelduck. Suddenly, a flock of small birds flew up from the shingle ahead of us and their distinctive twittering immediately confirmed that they were Snow Buntings. They flew off to the east, flashing their white wing patches of various sizes, returning overhead shortly afterwards and disappearing from view. In the distance, we could also see another flock of small birds which flew round and landed on the edge of the shingle. They looked like Twite, so we decided to walk west and try to find them.

However, when we got to where they had landed, we couldn’t find them. Walking a little further on, we came across the Snow Buntings again, about 20 in all, and this time got great views through the scope as they fed in the sparse vegetation behind the beach. We turned to head back, and hadn’t gone very far when the flock of about 30 Twite flew round once more. We managed to position ourselves and they flew in and landed on the fence in front of us, allowing us to get a good look at them, before dropping down to feed in the long grass, at which point they completely disappeared again! Knowing where they were, we stood and watched for a while and one or two birds would regularly fly back up onto the fence.

P1100111Snow Buntings – a flock of about 20 was at Salthouse today

As we walked back to the car, we could see more Brent Geese further along the coast at Kelling, so we decided to see if the Black Brant was with them. We had a short walk along the lane there, which yielded Redwing, Song Thrush, Yellowhammer and a stunning male Bullfinch. However, there was no sign of the target goose, so we didn’t linger.

We had driven via Cley looking for geese on our way to Salthouse earlier on. There had been none there first thing, but news came through that the Black Brant had been seen there later in the morning, so we drove round to the Eye Field. We quickly found the Brent Geese and it didn’t take long to locate the Black Brant in amongst them – its much darker, blackish body plumage and striking white flank patch and collar meaning it really stood out.

IMG_1939Black Brant – in the Eye Field at Cley today

From there, we headed on to Wells. Some of the Pink-footed Geese had been feeding on the harvested sugar beet fields just inland in previous days, but they had obviously moved on. We did have a Red Kite circling lazily over the road. From there, we dropped back down to Holkham and there were plenty of Pink-footed Geese on the grazing marshes – thousands of them! We stopped a while to watch the throngs, with lots of small groups flying round overhead and a constant backdrop of high-pitched honking. A few were feeding closer to Lady Anne’s Drive and allowed us to get a really good look at them. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Snow Goose which had been here with them for the last couple of days.

IMG_1948Pink-footed Geese – several thousand were in the fields at Holkham

Our next stop was Burnham Overy. We walked out along the track across the grazing marshes. Another nice flock of Brent Geese was feeding close to the path, little groups of Pink-footed Geese were out on the fields and lots of Curlew and Lapwing. A commotion over the other side of the hedge revealed a covey of cantankerous Grey Partridges, at least 8 birds arguing amongst themselves, calling and chasing. We saw several more coveys as we walked out along the seawall. However, the highlight was the big flock of over a thousand Golden Plover – they were very hard to see in the grass but when spooked they flew round and overhead in a swirling flock.

P1100127Golden Plover – the large swirling flock landing back on the grazing marsh

Over towards the dunes, we picked up the unmistakeable flight of a Short-eared Owl. We watched it for a while in the scope as it tussled with a Marsh Harrier, circling back and forth. As we walked along the seawall, a stunning male Hen Harrier flew in and west across the grazing marshes, before circling up and over the dunes. There were numerous Common Buzzards sat on bushes or gates or flying round, but as we got nearer the dunes, we finally located the regular wintering Rough-legged Buzzard, sitting on a fence post out over the marshes. Its pale head and deep black belly patch really standing out in the late afternoon light

IMG_1962Rough-legged Buzzard – this young bird looks set to spend the winter here

As we walked back, a Barn Owl suddenly appeared over the fields. It circled round and flew past us, intent on hunting and oblivious to our presence. We saw it several times as we walked back, working its way back and forth. Just to round off the raptor (& owl) haul, a young Peregrine shot past over the trees just inland on the return walk.

P1100120Pink-footed Geese – a stunning display, thousands flying in overhead at dusk

The sun was starting to go down by this stage. Several large skeins of Pink-footed Geese, each of over a thousand birds, had flown overhead as we walked, coming from the fields inland where they had been feeding to roost out on the marshes. However, the best was to come as we got back to the car. We could hear the noise well before we could see them – a cacophony of yelping and honking in the distance. Then the sky was lined with birds which came in low overhead, the sky almost black with them, the sound of them strangely bewitching. For several seconds they passed above us, an enormous number of geese. We stood in awe as they went. What a great way to finish the day.

P1100131Sunset at Burnham Overy

4th December 2014 – A Good Day for Geese, and More

A private tour today. After a late start, we headed over to Salthouse. As we drove along the coast road, we could see just a few Brent Geese on the grazing marsh by the road. We pulled up and through the window could see that the Black Brant was in amongst them, but before everyone could get onto it the geese took off. They flew over the road and up over the hill beyond, out of sight. Very annoying!

We drove on down to the beach. The sea was quiet – a few distant Red-throated Divers moving past offshore – but there was a good selection of wildfowl on the grazing marshes. Several Shoveler, Wigeon and a few Teal were on view, as well as a couple of Shelduck and a Little Grebe. Suddenly all the ducks erupted from cover and out onto the open water, and we realised there were many more there than we had previously been able to see! The source of the excitement soon became clear as a Sparrowhawk was promptly seen off by a couple of the local Jackdaws. There was no sign of the Lapland Buntings which have been around those fields for the last few days and as we walked back to the car, we worked out why as the Sparrowhawk flew in again to the very area they had previously been in.

P1100072Salthouse – the view over the marshes from Sarbury Hill

From the beach, we had not seen any sign of the Brent Geese returning from where they had flown, so we decided to drive back and have a quiet walk up over the paths beyond the coast road to see if we could locate them. A couple of fields up behind the road, we saw through a gap in the hedge that there was a large flock feeding in a winter wheat field. Moving very slowly, we got ourselves into a position where we could see the geese. They could see us too, but by making sure that we didn’t spook them as we approached, they were happy to walk slowly away from us and resumed feeding. A quick scan through the flock revealed the Black Brant – its much darker body plumage, very bold white flank patch and striking, thick, white collar all immediately serving to distinguish it from our usual wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese. We got great views of it through the scope.

P1100071Black Brant – amongst Dark-bellied (& one Pale Bellied) Brent Geese

A second scan through the flock and we picked up a rather paler bird – this time a Pale-bellied Brent Goose. This race of Brent occurs regularly but rather uncommonly in Norfolk, coming from places such as Greenland, Spitzbergen or Arctic Canada, much further west than our Russian Dark-bellieds, it typically winters in the west of the UK. At one point, as it walked through the flock, we had the three races of Brent Goose all in the scope together! It is not very often that happens. We retreated as the flock walked away from us over the brow of the hill and out of view.

We moved on to the East Bank at Cley. It was not great weather for Bearded Tits – cold, damp and overcast, although at least it wasn’t windy – but we thought we would have a go at seeing them anyway. A small group of Redshank was feeding on the new pools at the start of the bank and three Ruff had tried to hide in amongst them, giving us a great opportunity to study the differences between these similar-sized waders. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reedbed and a showy Little Egret fed on the Serpentine. We could hear both Reed Bunting and Wren calling as we walked along, then suddenly heard the distinctive ‘ping’ of a Bearded Tit. Waiting patiently, and one flew out and dropped into the reeds not too far from the East Bank. Then a male shuffled up a reed and briefly sat out in full view and we could see a female feeding on the edge of the shorter reeds.

P1100074Little Egret – feeding on the Serpentine

We headed west to Holkham. Identification of geese was a topic of interest, so we stopped at Lady Anne’s Drive to look at the Pink-footed Geese. There are normally a few birds to be found loafing around in the fields by the road here, and we got excellent views, giving us the chance to compare and contrast with some nearby Greylags and to see the size difference versus the smaller Brents which were mixed in with them.

P1100078Pink-footed Geese – we had good close up views at Holkham

By now, the weather had closed in and it was decidedly misty. Undaunted, we carried on towards Burnham Overy and set off to walk out across the marshes to the seawall. The first thing we saw was a group of at least 12 Barnacle Geese out amongst the Brents. The origin of these birds is never entirely clear, as there is a large feral population in the UK these days.  A short distance further on and we could hear a cacophony of sound approaching from behind. Gradually, out of the mist, we could see the source approaching – at least 2,000 Pink-footed Geese had been disturbed from the sugar beet fields inland, where they had been feeding, and had decided to flight into the grazing marshes. They came right overhead – a truly amazing sight.

P1100081Pink-footed Geese – at least 2,000 birds came right over our heads

There were several small groups of Brents on the grazing marshes as we walked out, and in one of them a bird stood out. Not quite as dark as the Black Brant we saw earlier, the flank patch not quite as white, but still with a very striking collar, this was a hybrid Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose. This bird has been returning to the same area every winter for many years – unfortunately, not normally as accommodating as it was today, right by the path, just as the weather meant there was not enough light to get what would have been a fantastic set of photographs. Always the way!

P1100084Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent hybrid – a regular at this site

From up on the seawall, we could see a good selection of waders out on the mud – Grey Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Knot and Oystercatcher. Later on, after walking out through the dunes to the beach, we added Sanderling, Turnstone and a fly-by Bar-tailed Godwit to that list. Also by the seawall, we flushed a little covey of three Grey Partridges which flew out and landed on the saltmarsh, where we could get them in the scope.

The first raptor we picked out was a female Marsh Harrier, which sat on a bush in the reeds. We watched it as it flew away and chased off a male nearby. However, the bird we had really come here to see was the Rough-legged Buzzard. Just as it looked like we might be out of luck, we picked up a fence post looking slightly taller than it should at a great distance across the marshes. In the scope, through the mist, we could just about make out a pale head – it was a Rough-legged Buzzard. Walking further up the path didn’t help – it was still a long way off and visibility was very poor. However, it had turned round and we could see its solid dark belly patch. Hardly satisfactory views, but under the circumstances, better than we might have feared. At least we had seen it.

After our walk out to the beach, we headed back along the path. A glance out over the saltmarsh revealed a raptor approaching from the west. As it got nearer, it was clearly a Rough-legged Buzzard. It proceeded to come right overhead, giving us great views of its underparts, and as it flew away from us, it banked to show off its white tail with black terminal bank. Stunning, so close, if only the light had been better and the cameras had been out! We were still not finished and, a little further back along the seawall, some mournful honking alerted us to two Bewick’s Swans flying low overhead and away to the west. Well worth the walk out, despite the weather.

What little light there had been was now fading fast, so we headed back to Lady Anne’s Drive and enjoyed the sight and sound of the thousands of Pink-footed Geese coming in to roost.