It was a beautiful day, but I still had jobs to do and didn't get out until late morning. It felt so much warmer today, but was very chilly late afternoon.
I counted at least 32 Avocets today, an increase on my last count. Good numbers of Shelduck, Teal, 10+ Pintail (drake and females), Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Redshanks, 70+ Lapwings flew over east, Little Grebes, Golden Plover, Brent Geese, Little Egret etc on the pools. On the sea: 3 Goldeneye, 2 adult Gannets, close in flying east, several Cormorants, a raft of approx 50+ Common Scoters, but no sign of any Long-tailed Ducks through the eagle eye of my new scope! A flock of Goldfinches landed briefly on the small bush next to the sea-watching area. A lone Grey Plover stood on the shoreline, amidst Sanderlings scurrying along and Oystercatchers probing the wet sand.
Around the Fen Trail and bird feeders I saw Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Robins and a Wren and also 2 Marsh Harriers flying over Patsy's Pool and 1 Grey Heron. There were some amusing Valentine's messages on bird pictures around the Fen Trail – eg a picture of a Raven with the caption underneath 'I'm absolutely Raven about you' and another with a Ruff, and also a Wren, but I can't remember what the other captions said now, sorry! The new boardwalk around the Fen Trail is complete and all looks good. I was impressed with the new bird table and feeder just outside the Fen Hide, but it was sad to see some Alder trees cut down next to the the visitor centre to make way for a project that will replicate the entire reserve in minature and will be wheelchair friendly – this is a lovely idea, but just a pity the trees had to come down to accomodate for this.
All in all a productive afternoon and it was nice to use the Mulepack for the first time with my new scope. I have decided there is no such as thing as perfect carrying equipment, when you want to take so much gear with you, but the Mulepack overall felt light and comfortable. But then it would do, as you can't exactly fit in heavy duty items into the back pack area. It serves its purpose though – carrying tripod, scope, bottle of water, waterproof bag stuffed in for my camera and other odd small bits such as phonescoping adapters. You could squeeze in a sandwich, but not much else food wise, which of course would be good for one's waistline! My camera sat fairly comfortably on my shoulder with the strap secured through the chest strap of the Mulepack. With weight in the backpack I did find it a little difficult to put the whole thing back into my back – difficult to explain this, but after putting one arm through, the weight of the tripod pulls back as you attempt to put your other arm through the strap, but got there in the end! So good overall, but the whole thing would have to be swopped for my usual rucksack if I was going on a really long hike such as Blakeney Point, but then to be fair I don't tend to take a scope when I'm walking BP anyway.
Visited my parents for a while before returning home to King's Lynn. New job starts tomorrow, nervous but feel a little excited now – early night!