It Started with a Roller

For the first time in a long while myself and Matt heading off on a mega-day out. The target bird was the Roller in Suffolk followed by a visit to Hickling Broad in Norfolk. As forecast it was raining when I picked Matt up at 04:30 and it got worse as we headed east. We were hoping that the forecast showing the rain stopping by seven was right. We arrived at Icklingham at around quarter -past seven and it had indeed stopped raining but was still ovecast and dull. As we drove past the site there were a few people about so having parked in the nearby layby we headed back to a viewing point by the birds favoured field. As we approached we could already see the Roller perched on overhead wires. A nice easy lifer for Matt and second in the UK for me. After having a good look with binoculars Matt went back to the car to get his scope. The Roller flew up a couple of times and both times relocated on the wires. It then flew down again and when it came back up had prey in its beak. Possibly a small lizard. We stayed for about forty-five minutes and having decided not to walk along the main road to get a little closer we walked a little further along the fieldside track to see what else we could find. Cuckoo and Yellowhammer were the best. From here we moved on to the nearby Lackford Lakes to try for Glossy Ibis. No joy unfortunately but a nice walk around this lovely reserve got the day-list up to fifty. Then it was back to the car to head further east, into Norfolk and our third new site for the day Hickling Broad. Matt is and NWT member so got in free but I had to fork out £4.50 to get in. We made a leisurely circuit of the reserve soon getting Marsh Harrier and Bitter flying over the reedbeds. Overall it was pretty quiet until we got the viewpoint over the scrape. From here the highlights were six Spoonbills, several Avocets and good numbers of Ruff in various plumages including full summer. There were plenty of young birds around with Avocer, Redshank and Lapwing all seen. With no sign of our main target bird Black-winged Stilt we moved on to the Stubb Mill path to view the other side of the more open area. Matt soon picked out a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper and I found a Wood Sandpiper. No sign of the Stilts though or of a black Spotted Redshank that had been seen the previous day. From here we had better views of the Spoonbills including two juveniles with their black-edged wings. Also, we didn’t see any Swallowtail butterflies which wasn’t surprising with the dull and overcast conditions. Returning to the visitor centre we found out that the Stilts had relocated to the reserve a tPotter Heigham so that it where we headed next. This was another new site for me and wasn’t that easy to view due to the high reeds along the watercourses. However we soon found the two Stilts along with nineteen Blackwits and several more Avocet. It was then time to start heading for home but we had decided to have a look in at Cavenham Heath which was very close to where we had seen the Roller. A message came up on Birdguides saying the Glossy Ibis had been seen again at Lackham so we stopped in on the way. We walked quickly to Paul’s Hide and were extremely lucky to get a view of the Ibis just as it was moving out of sight behind the reeds. We also added Great Spot, Great Tit and Marsh Tit here to bring the day-lisy well ito the eighties. We initially approached Cavenham from the wrong side but eventually found our way to the car park. Thye main feature here were the large amount of Crows with several hundred being seen. We did however manage to find a single Stone Curlew and also added Green Woodpecker and Stonechat to the list. Our Deer species total reached three with a few Red in the distance adding toseen earlier Muntjac and Chinese Water. Leaving here at around half-six we had a great journey back (apart from me missing a junction on the A14) and I dropped Matt off at a little after nine. So a seventeen hour, four hundred and forty mile day had given us an excellent ninety species with six year-ticks each.

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