31 August 2009

About the Broads

A family holiday in the Norfolk Broads provided a few opportunities to slip out birding - and turned up little when I was expecting it, plenty when I wasn't.

Oulton Broads is on the southern edge of the Broads, virtually on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk. With several members of the family having hired the Albion for the week (a traditional Broads wherry), we got ourselves a chalet nearby and headed down.

The area is beautiful, the weather was fine, and around and about us I saw several Hobbies flying over and heard Bearded Tits 'pinging' in the reeds near the Albion's mooring (sadly it was too windy for a chance to see them).

A trip to Minsmere was more than a little disappointing - conservation work in progress meant virtually nothing on the main scrapes (why don't they close for a day a week like they used to?). I did manage to find a few things including a dozen Black-tailed Godwits flying over, but overall the trip was the poorest I've yet made to this normally great reserve.

Which made the next day at Snape Maltings so much the better. Initially a family / shopping trip, it transpired that the RSPB has bought land there and is planning on managing it for nature. I joined the guided tour and was thrilled to find a pair of Whinchat, my first for a long long time, and easily my best views. Unexpected birding is always the best.

Bird of the week: Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), a lovely little upright perching bird with a broad creamy stripe above the eye - definitely don't see enough of them round my way!

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