Tuesday, April 01, 2008

(not) Spring 08 holiday, the last day

The last day of the holiday, always bittersweet, as you know it's time to start thinking about work again and the chores, etc. yet still how to get the best from the last day? We originally planned two half-hour stops on the way home, one in Thetford forest in an attempt to see Goshawk and one at Welney WWT perhaps for lunch. Helen had other ideas...

Our first stop was indeed in Thetford Forest at Brandon Country Park (you're advised to park here as there have been a number of car break-ins at the Mayday Farm car park), whereupon we decided to do a six mile walk, which I did manage to reduce to five miles en route :)

We didn't see Goshawk but did see Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. The woods were very busy with Goldcrests, flocks of Tits, drumming Woodpeckers, etc. Part of the wood has been cut down to create a heathland habitat. It's only recently been created but already it is working. We had fantastic views of a Woodlark:

The bird was singing away and hopping around, a real pleasure to experience and from a bird that up to this point we'd found really hard to hear, let alone see.

From Thetford we popped into Weeting Heath, where there were already five Stone Curlews, mostly relaxing in the sun, at quite a distance from the hide but clearly visible in a telescope. From Weeting Heath we went to Lakenheath Fen (http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lakenheathfen/index.asp) which was hosting a family open day. I really enjoy Lakenheath Fen, even though I've seen neither the Common Cranes there nor the Golden Orioles... but it is a wonderful spot. Once a poplar plantation for future matchsticks, then a carrot field, now a nature reserve attracting growing numbers of scarce birds, including the Cranes in 2007, Bearded Tits, Bitterns, Marsh Harriers, etc. A three mile loop walk didn't produce any good images but I was amazed to see many hundreds of gulls settled on the lake, which two years ago had hosted a few Mallards and Mute Swans. There's a new visitor centre too which illustrates very graphically just how little habitat of this type and quality remains in the UK or indeed Europe, it's actually quite shocking to see.

From Lakenheath and with eight unexpected miles under the belt we headed home to see what had happened in the garden. It was very quiet, and here's the reason why:

A great holiday along the 'bird coast', a little early perhaps for Spring migration proper but we did get to see some fantastic sights, drink some good local ales and walk, a lot. Can't wait to go back, though next time we'll probably try for late April. Roll on our next holiday!

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