Trip reports

BREYDON WATER WEST ... Thursday 19th February 2015

BREYDON WATER WEST ... Thursday 19th February 2015
Judith Goddard

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Skylarks were seen trilling away when high against the clouds, being almost invisible in the blue sky patches. House sparrows, greenfinches and blackbirds hopped about the hedges bordering the park. Black-headed and lesser black-backed gulls flew overhead, as did a stock dove and jackdaws.
Setting off along the path to the church, rooks wheeled and cawed in the trees above. A spread of snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and celandines carpeted the graveyard. The party, led by Charles Goddard, walked down the path to the right of the church to join Angles Way, the long distance pathway that runs from Great Yarmouth to Thetford. Fortunately, it was not intended to try to complete the distance in the two-and-a-half hour time span! Magpies chuckled and great tits see-sawed in the shelter of the foliage.
The first birds noted walking out by the reedbeds and the western end of Breydon Water were moorhens and mallard in the ponds by the path, then curlew, mute swan and starlings in the fields beyond. A cold wind blew hard enough to blow an unattended telescope on a tripod over - but fortunately no harm done. Honking Canada geese were heard but not seen, whereas a raft of teal and gadwall were in the lee of the reeds.
Looking over to the spit that marked the confluence of the Rivers Waveney and Yare, oystercatchers, redshanks, wigeon and cormorants (some smartly dressed in breeding plumage with their white heads and prominent white thigh spots) were seen. An avocet was feeding next to the groins and a flock of dunlin flew overhead. A couple of shelduck by the far bank ignored little egrets, but looked up as a flock of lapwing flapped over. A young male marsh harrier harried teal and wigeon when quartering the fields on the far side.
Great black-backed and herring gulls stood head-to-wind or wheeled and dived in flight. Kestrels hovered with apparent ease attempting to spot lunch among the grasses below. A grey heron wandered up a dyke seeking amphibians or something fishy, although a vole or larger beetle would not be ignored. The wing of a buzzard was briefly seen as its owner flapped above the bank on the other side of Breydon Water, then later a distant view of a raptor perched in almost a crouching position on a fence proved to be a common buzzard when it took off. Although a rough-legged buzzard had been seen in the area, it eluded the party.
Some members stayed in one spot to search around the area - which resulted in a barn owl seen, while others wandered off towards the east and added meadow pipit to their lists. Charles commented that it was preferential for party members to keep together as many eyes looking around saw more birds . . . and non-experienced birdwatchers can learn what to look for, how to tell species apart, etc. Like a good shepherd, the flock was gathered in and guided westward along the River Waveney below the ruins of Burgh Castle, the Roman barracks where centurions must have arrived by ship wondering where on earth they were and what they were here for! The view would have been of marshland and reedbeds stretching for miles.
Blue tits tweeted and flittered about in the shrubs while black-tailed godwits, golden plover and greylag geese were seen looking over the river and beyond. The walk continued as far as the Burgh Castle marina before turning back.
A total of forty-one species were identified, of which the majority was seen by all. The walk was an ideal one for the time intended, but future ventures would be better when the mudflats were exposed and the bitter wind not so chill.
Identified birds: avocet, barn owl, blackbird, black-headed gull, black-tailed godwit, blue tit, Canada goose (heard), common buzzard, cormorant, curlew, dunlin, gadwall, golden plover, great black-backed gull, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, herring gull, house sparrow, jackdaw, kestrel, lapwing, little egret, lesser black-backed gull, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, meadow pipit, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher, redshank, rook, shelduck, skylark, starling, stock dove, teal, wigeon and woodpigeon.

Charles Goddard