With the previous weekend spent visiting relatives in Yorkshire, it was back to Norfolk for the last visit of 2011, and the final chance to fit in some last minute year ticks. The majority of time was spent at Snettisham, mostly around the RSPB reserve, where the flock of Barnacle Geese increased to 27 birds, and the adult Lesser white front remained in the company of Greylags. Three additional Barnacles were seen roosting with the Pink feet, and an adult Black Brant was seen on two occasions with the Brent flock, coming to bathe at the southern end of Wolferton creak early morning. A new Scaup appeared on the pits along with a drake Red breasted Merganser; an increasingly scarce bird and the first that I've seen on the pits for at least two years.
Black Brant Snettisham RSPB
A Great Skua, seen off of the Coastal Park, was a late patch year tick, with two Velvet Scoter and at least three Little Gulls also present offshore. The most unexpected sight was provided by a juvenile Shag, actively feeding in the bay directly below Sanctuary hide, though a flock of nine Woodlark, seen on the edge of Ken Hill Wood, was perhaps equally surprising. Local breeders, or birds from elsewhere? Seven birds were still present by the end of the week.
Shag Snettisham RSPB
The first that I have seen on the pits, and the final patch tick of the year, bringing the 2011 total to 182. Not bad going when you consider that its all %100 self found. Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier and Razorbill were perhaps the most obvious gaps in the list, whilst the sea failed to deliver the decent autumn seawatch that I had hoped for. Patch ticks this year were provided by Tundra Bean Goose, Hooded Crow, Arctic Tern, Manx Shearwater, Roseate Tern and White-rumped Sandpiper.
Highlights from elsewhere included a Black-throated Diver and Red-necked Grebe together on the sea off of Hunstanton and an excellent count of at least 70 Tree Sparrow at Abbey Farm Flitcham, whilst an adult Yellow legged Gull roosting at Titchwell did its best to make up for the absent 1st winter Caspian Gull. What was more disappointing was missing the adult Iceland Gull that paid a brief visit to the fresh Marsh, whilst I was huddled down on the beach scouring the swarm of gulls feeding along the tideline.
Waxwing Snettisham Coastal Park
One of two feeding on Hawthorns
Tree Sparrows Flitcham