The past couple of weeks have seen quite a mix of weather, but we appear to be currently gripped by a cold spell, meaning that the majority of our broads are frozen.
With the majority of waterbodies frozen, the wildfowl have been grouped together at Reception Broad, this flock has consisted mainly of gadwall, mallard, teal and coot…all of which are now paired up. A kingfisher was seen on the river on Tuesday as well as a bittern in front of Reception hide on Monday morning.
Woodcock have been seen at dusk on clear evenings leaving the woods and heading out to feed. Also at dusk, the harriers continue to arrive in good numbers, but fewer than in the first half of the month with around 30 coming in, the ringtail hen harrier is also still roosting, so can be seen if you are lucky. 10 water pipits were seen coming in to roost on Tuesday afternoon, confirming our suspicions that we had a few more than usual in the area.
The woodland has continued to see finch flocks containing goldfinch, siskin, lesser redpoll and brambling. Bullfinches have been seen regularly in the first part of the woodland and around the carpark/railway crossing area as well as treecreepers singing from the woods.
Wednesday saw a good clear blue sky and very still conditions, which prompted the first few sparrowhawks to display as well as a small movement of buzzards, 16 were counted on one scan from the Reception hide. It will not be long now until the male marsh harriers start displaying on the bright mornings and wow us with their plunging display flights.
Buckenham and Cantley continue to hold on to decent numbers of waders and wildfowl. A survey on Wednesday found 538 lapwing, 1586 wigeon, 82 teal, 1205 pink footed geese, 226 white fronted geese as well as 3 (possibly 17?) taiga bean geese still present. Other birds present include red kites, buzzards, marsh harriers, a pair of stonechats and small numbers of ruff.
We had another small flood on Sunday night, which flooded the riverbank paths. Despite this, everything is currently open and if frozen, relatively good walking conditions, if thawed walking boots or wellingtons are recommended. The woodland/Fen Hide loop provides the driest circuit as always. It may be a little early to talk about signs of spring, but they are currently all around us if you know where to look. Snowdrops, daffodils and plenty of bird song certainly hint at the change in season.
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