Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The River Yare at Marlingford, Norfolk

Today, during my break from work, I visited the beautiful River Yare at Marlingford Mill.  This is a stunning location with the disused mill standing on a narrow winding road between the village of Marlingford.  The river, compared to recent visits was quite high and flowing fast through woodland and water meadows.

A tributary of the Yare at Marlingford
Following lunch in the car park at Marlingford Church, I walk down the hill towards the mill and was greeted by the 'piping' call of a Bullfinch in the roadside hedgerow.  The lanesides and sheltered areas of woodland in this area retained a frost from the previous night, and in fact remained until darkness fell.
The banks of the River Yare at this locality are lined by many Alders and I was hoping to see Finch species such as Siskin and Redpoll feeding from the cones from which seeds are extracted, however, I saw none.
Standing by the mill with the noise of the torrent running under the bridge, I soon heard the familiar "stit" call of Grey Wagtail, then, 2 birds appeared on the mill roof along with a single Pied Wagtail.  These attractive birds often flew down to exposed mud where they hurriedly searched for midges etc to feed upon.
Whilst at the mill, a handsome, yet distant Red Fox was seen watching the ground intently for movement.
Overlooking the flood plain and river valley, at least 3 Little Egrets were seen.  These elegant Herons delicately walked the sides of waterways in search of food, also, on occasions, a bird was seen to walk stealthily over damp fields, presumably in search of invertebrates.  Some twenty years ago, Little Egrets were considered a rare bird in the UK, however, range expansion has seen this species become a familiar site on our inland waterways.

Little Egret at Marlingford 06/12/14
 A more familiar Heron species to most was a single Grey Heron which strided stealthily across a damp water meadow, whilst the only Kingisher seen on the visit was of a bird flying fast and low over a field nearby.
A pair of Egyptian Geese was seen, one was feeding on grass whilst the other was sleeping on a bank.  Despite being a native of the African continent, this species is thriving in our climate, and it seems bizarre that its courtship and breeding may occur very early in the year from about February, quite a surreal experience for a species with African origins.

With the sun beginning to set fast it was time to return to work, and the final bird of the visit to be heard was the same species which greeted me when I arrived, a 'piping' Bullfinch.

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