|Posted by birdbeards2010 on February 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM|
Friday of half-term saw the first weekly BirdBeards Family Fun Day Out (here's hoping). Baby Nye, Welsh Girl and I crammed into the Dragon Wagon and headed out Breckland way to meet up with Le Hatt, Hells Bells (with Le Hatt - the next generation- in tow) and Evie. Our aim was to clinch a couple of tasty birds that have eluded me in my last 5 arboretum visits.
The sight of 5 circling Buzzards on our approach to the woods boded well. In fact, I'm sure that's my highest ever Buteo Buteo group count in our fine county. As we pulled into the car park we turned down the volume on Mahler's 5th and were amazed to see Le Hatt & family already unpacking their car. Incroyable, seeing as Hells Bells is actually as bad as the ginger one himself when it comes to getting ready and out of the house. So, as the skies cleared to a beautiful blue, the future of birding was born - BirdBeards and families kitted out for a rarity outing and ready to roll (minus Le Hatt's sarnies, that he'd left on the kitchen unit!) This surely is the way forward and the girls and my wee man were visibly excited.
With the Zoom (that's the pram) erected and Nye installed we headed straight through the glorious arboretum towards the paddock, in search of our elusive but spectacular target birds. A safari group were searching the hornbeams and we decided to pull up in our own little space and see if our luck was in. For several minutes nothing stirred and the Welsh Girl was soon dismissing our chances - to be fair I've dragged her around the place enough times!
But then, out of nowhere, Le Hatt noticed a small group of birds swoop into the zone. Within seconds great excitement errupted, as it became clear that the longed for Hawfinches had arrived. Five of the bulbous billed beauties perched in the hornbeam closest to the lake and we all looked on in awe and admiration at their beauty. It's as simple as that really, isn't it?! A Hawfinch - exquisite.
Get in! A complete lifer for me, Nye, Welsh Girl, Evie and Hells Bells.
Bon - jour!
It had taken me a long time to nail this species and so I was understandably gleeful as we did the circuit of the paddock. More excitement ensued as we got further views of small groups and then a flock of 9 Hawfinches in flight and in the top of the big pines. Su-bloody-perb!
It was then a lesson in ensuring we are able to get out birding again. The lesson was given by Mr Clennell (aka BirdBeard). It was quite simple really - find the posh hall hotel and take the girls for tea & scones, sitting in the plush leather sofas with portraits of Nelson & Wellington looking down from the sumptuous surrounds. Then pay the bill. Tidy.
Being fully refreshed, we set off on the walk back round the lake, with hopes of a Redpoll or two. Better than that; far, far better, was to come. Whilst Le Hatt dawdled behind, the rest of us found ourselves stuck with the pram at the gate. With no Le Hatt to help with the pram lift I had a look about. And into the dead tree opposite flew a pair of instantly recognisable Crossbills! Get the duck in! A UK lifer for me and, when he managed to catch up, a complete lifer for Ginge. We got great views of them plucking at the lichen growing on the trunk, but they were too quick for my camera skills. Goldcrests and Marsh Tits topped off our visit and it truly was happy days when we got back to the car park - which was alive with tits and crests. Here's to many more family fun days to follow!
As if making Norfolk List 2012 birds 100 and 101 Hawfinch and Crossbill wasn't good enough, on Sunday I manged to track down and get great flight and fishing views of the Great White Egret for my number 103, on the River Yare between Bawburgh and Marlingford. Cheers muchly to the other bearded birder who let me have a look through his scope as I had dashed out with just my bins, in between changing nappies and planning lessons. A very good few days for the ultimate Norfolk Birders.