Sunday, 28 January 2018
13. RSPB Surlingham Church Marshes
After purchasing Best Birdwatching Sites: Norfolk by Neil Glenn, we were inspired to explore even more new wildlife sites this year. Today, we met a friend (and her dog – they are allowed on this reserve on a lead) to try the circular walk at RSPB Surlingham Church Marshes. A balmy 15 °C for January, sunshine and a light wind apparently provided some good conditions for birds of prey.
We began the muddy journey from the church, encountering my first cluster of snowdrops this year by the cottages. Continuing on, reaching the River Yare, two Egyptian geese sized us up from the adjacent field, whilst a kestrel hovered over some unseen prey. A pair of great crested grebe began their elaborate courtship display as we watched from the bank, behind the viewing screen. Head ducking, gift exchanging and rising up out of the water at each other, this pair certainly had spring on their minds. As we were watching this spectacle, a large raptor appeared overhead; a red kite was flying lazily low, its yellow eyes keen on the ground.
The mud made it difficult to walk, but, inspired by our sightings so far, we slogged on, eventually reaching open reed bed. A couple of cormorants darted across the sky, then my eye was caught by another large raptor; this time a marsh harrier. Quartering the reeds, it repeatedly pulled up to check below, but did not seem to spot anything worth its interest.
Heading back through the small woodland, a few common woodland birds: chaffinch, blue tit, great tit and a robin to sing us out.