♫Birds flyin' high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
yeah, its a new dawn its a new day its a new life for me
And I'm feelin good
Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin' free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
And I'm feelin good♫
The mild weather that heralded the beginning of 2013 continued on. What an amazing start to the new year to be blessed with such good weather. Its sacré bleu not to be out and about, breathing the fresh but nippy air. So here we are, wrapped up warm and checking out our favourite playground. We weren’t surprised to see the car-park full. Along the path, we were serenaded by Chaffinches, Robins, Goldfinches, Blue and Great Tits. It felt like Spring was here. This very handsome Reed Bunting caught our attention.
Then we checked out the feeding station at the Fishermen’s car-park. We stood very still and waited for the natives to get used to us being there. One by one, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Robins, Blue and Great Tits started flying in and feeding on the table. But what caught our attention was when Babe spotted this adorable Vole, darting in and out of the undergrowth, taking advantage of the seeds being dropped by the birds. Woo-hoo and this photograph by yours truly was tagged as favourite by the BBC Winter Naturewatch. I’m so chuffed to bits. But I can’t compete with Babe because he had loads already tagged on the website.
The latest was of moi feeding Mr. Hood in my palm, taken on the same day. Have you ever had a bird standing and feeding on your palm? You feel as if you’d something very delicate resting on your hand. Their dainty feet was quite cold too. I felt so blessed that it trusted me enough to feed from my hand. I was grinning from ear to ear.
The Robin is the one
That speeches from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctity are best
We continued walking on the very muddy and slippery footpath. In Baldwin Hide, we were disgusted that people have been standing on the benches because they were covered with muddy boot-prints. How selfish was that. We’d to wipe them off before we could sit down. When we looked out, we noticed that the island opposite the Wright Hide had disappeared under water. A few Greylags, Canada Geese, Mallards, Lapwings and Gulls huddled on the partially-flooded main island. Cormorants in their winter colours were using the pontoons as their perch.
Then another slow walk towards East Marsh Hide. It was much cleaner. We sat for a while enjoying the whistling from the noisy Wigeons and the playfulness of the Gulls. When we popped over to Carlton Hide, we’d to squeeze in among the twitchers and photographers. I wonder what they were waiting for. A Kingfisher suddenly hovered in front of us and flew off before either of us could get a photograph.
The hide was getting noisier by the minute that we decided to leave. Nothing will appear with such a racket. It was a shame actually because the views of the reed-beds was amazing. It was glowing as the late winter sun shone on it. A Jay flew onto the dead tree but it was too far to get a good photograph. We wanted to walk to the screen but it was just too muddy to get through. Then it was a slow walk back to the car.
We decided to start the new year by checking out a new site that we’d not been before. Our destination was a 2.5 hours drive to the Snettisham RSPB. After filling the car with petrol and purchasing a few essentials such as a pack of cheese and onion pasties and mini pancakes, we made our way onto the motorway. There was so much traffic on the road. I think most people were like us, having a long extended break. After having a McWee* near Peterborough, we continued our journey when Babe spotted this handsome bird riding the waves. We managed to stop at a lay-by and I jumped out, rattling a few shots. It was a Red Kite. Woo-hoo…
As usual, the nearer we got to the reserve, the bumpier the road became. I was excited when we drove through a field of grazing Greylags. I’ve seen them before but to see hundreds were something else. We managed to get a parking space and began checking out the area. We saw this pair of Egyptian Geese having a rest beside the fishery. It was amazing to get this close to such colourful birds.
We splashed through very muddy path, climbed 3 sets of steps and encountered a landscape steeped in local history, from shingle digging in WW2 to the devastating floods of 1953. These shingle pits were examples of saline lagoons and were filled with Mallards, Tufted ducks, Golden Eyes, Shelducks, Teals, Wigeons, Galdwalls and Shovelers. The cries of the Curlews were echoing around us. We were intrigued by the rows of colourful and mismatched holiday homes lining the lagoons.
Finally we arrived at the beach, the first contact with the wash. And wow… a dramatic vista greeted us. There was a saying: “Where there’s muck there’s brass”. For naturalist, it was more of where there was mud, there were birds. And it was a bird paradise. There were thousands on the mudflats as far as the eye can see. Then we caught sight of a cloud of Knot which contained a mass of a thousand birds, morphing into globular shapes like a living lava, shimmering above the mudflats. Simply a-m-a-z-i-n-g !!! Then slowly, they began dropping a few at a time.
We’d never seen so many big, black and white Shelducks dabbling on the mudflats. Curlews were everywhere, flying in with its undulating display flight and its rich bubbling, rippling call, brightening the winter afternoon. It was busy feeding and with its long down-curved beak, the curlew was a master at winkling out tasty morsel.
We walked along the shingle beaches towards where the hides were situated. Blackbirds were gorging on the berries. A flock of Turnstones wheeled in with their twittering call trailing behind them and started feeding among the debris. In their duller brownish-black winter colours, these short-legged and dumpy waders started butting and poking under the stones, finding something juicy to feed on. They were quite tame and weren’t bothered with us watching them.
We tried to walk the 2 km trail that ran around the southernmost pit but gave up cos Babe was already exhausted. We sat in the freezing Rotary Hide where we could see either the lagoon on one side or the sea on the other. Unfortunately, the natives on the mudflats were too far away. On the lagoon which was just below us, we spotted Golden Eyes, Mallards, Lapwings, Little Grebe, Coots and then a flock of Wigeons flew in. We’d never seen so many flying together. They always make me smile, dabbling around the lagoon, whistling contentedly.
Hundreds of Greylags were grazing in the field across the hide. Suddenly we were assaulted with the sound of honkings and when we looked out squadrons of Pink-footed geese filled the sky and were landing into the lagoon at the wader watch point, their bellies full from a day’s foraging. The long shallow Vs as they traced across the sky in huge skeins, one after another, was simply awe-inspiring. I would love to see them roosting but the temperature was beginning to come down and we don’t want to walk out in the dark.
More geese were flying in and a lot of people were walking in to watch the roost. We would definitely come again in summer to witness the renowned whirling wader spectacular where thousands of birds take to the air as they were pushed off the mudflats by the incoming high tide. Just imagine the noise and cries from thousands of beating wings flying over your heads. I couldn’t wait. And check out the spectacular sunsets.
To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly as any earthly life can be.
Saturday was spent chilling in and dismantling the Xmas decorations. I brought down 2 huge boxes in December and I dragged up the stairs 3 boxes!!! How did they managed to multiply was beyond me :-). Babe had caught a cold and was sniffling the whole weekend. On Sunday, I started the day by walking around the block. I really needed to get rid of the festive indulgement. After a leisure breakfast of mushroom omelette, reading the Sunday papers and while listening to the local radio station, the above song by Nina Simone came on air. How appropriate.
NIST was back safely in Kent. We thoroughly enjoyed her company and we hoped she did too. We spent the days trying out lots of recipes, especially from home. She missed the food and we’d a wonderful time in the kitchen. We tried roti jala but there was something wrong with the batter that it ended a pancake and had it with prawn sambal, murtabak, fried hor-fun, sate and baked chicken biryani. Yummy…Babe gave us a lift into town and I kept her company until her bus arrives. I took the bus home and had the first surprise of 2013, the fare had gone up by 10p to £1.80!!!
Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.
*Using the facilities at McDonalds. Babe didn’t like to use without buying something and we ended up with the cheapest item in the menu :-).