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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sutton Gault & Lynford Aboretum

Sutton Gault, Ouse Washes
I arrived at 'The Anchor Inn' at 6.50am. It was cold and rain was looming. I had not been here before – it looked pretty bleak. The marshes and wetland were vast and I could see it was not going to be easy searching for the Baikal Teal. There was only one other birder here, who arrived just before me and he had started walking north of the 'Inn'. Last night it had said on the pager that the bird was viewed from 'south' of the 'Inn' – going by my compass on iphone, south was the path following the river on the same side as the 'Inn'. I must admit, I don't take my telescope unless I need it, but I realised I would most definitely be needing this today!

Walking along the river path, I didn't feel hopeful at all. I bumped into another birder up ahead who was scanning the marshes in the spot, where other birders had been watching the Baikal Teal last night – a local dog walker had informed him of this. I set up my scope and spent a long time scanning every single bird here including beaks peaking out behind tufts of grass! This wasn't the most exciting place I had ever been to, but there was a surprising number of birds here. My best bird was a Swallow that hurtled over my head – my second one of the Spring this weekend. The river bank had masses of Cowslips all the way along, as far as the eye could see – a very impressive site indeed. Not so impressive was the amount of dog crap – this was obviously a major dog walking path. Birds seen on the marshes were: 4 Herons together, 6 Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier, Crows, Swallow, 2 Oystercatchers, several Shovelers, 2 Teal, Mallards, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Cormorants, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swans and alot of Black-headed Gulls. More importantly though – there was NO Baikal Teal – I was not a happy bunny. Twitching doesn't do you any good at all, but I have never seen a Baikal Teal and this was a bit to close to home, to not go and see. I didn't want to wait on news via the pager this morning – I wanted to be here first thing, to maximise my chances of seeing it. Oh well. I spent over two hours here, looking in vain. A few other birders turned up. Shortly after I returned to my car it started raining. I sat and had a coffee and my second breakfast of the morning and then found myself having a half an hour nap, before leaving at 9.30am.
 Nuthatch at Lynford Aboretum.

Treecreeper at Lynford Aboretum.

 Siskin at Lynford Aboretum.

Lynford Aboretum
Mission: Two-barred Crossbills. These were not easy to see at all. In fact I walked round the entire Aboretum before I eventually got a brief glimpse of a male Two-barred Crossbill, very high up in a pine tree, along with a female (poor view) and also several Common Crossbills – Gary Elton (Holme NOA AW) very kindly helped me to see these and also to recognise their call. I saw very little on my walk round, no hawfinches, firecrests or anything of note. Back at the visitor hut I noticed that two photographers were standing by a small pond, poised ready to take shots of anything that appeared at the pond to drink. I eventually did see a Firecrest in the main carpark. I spent several hours by the small pond with the other two photographers in hope that I would get really lucky with a Two-barred Crossbill coming down to drink. There was a good selection here including Siskins, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, 2 Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Blackbirds, 2 Common Crossbills and a Blackcap were singing. Both photographers left and then returned a bit later to show off their pictures of a male Two-barred Crossbill they had photographed in a larch. I eventually gave up and whilst sitting in my car having tea, the owner of Lynford Hall came across to chat and very kindly showed me where a goldcrest's nest was – it was so beautifully created in the bow of a larch and very well concealed, I would never have noticed it! The light was rubbish now and it was time to go home. Unusually for me, I didn't get any pictures of the Two-barred Crossbills, not even a smudge on the camera and didn't get any spectacular shots of any other birds really either. Oh well, next time!

Back at home, there was discussion on the 'net' about where the Baikal Teal might be. I was hoping it would stop somewhere in Norfolk – maybe Titchwell RSPB. Now, that would be grand – to see that on home ground!

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