Friday, 21 February 2014

Trinity Broads: February

Eilish Rothney, Warden Trinity Broads

Slavonian grebe on Filby Broad. Photo by Geoff Tibbenham
I stood on the Filby walkway in the sunshine, a cold wind freezing my fingers and making my eyes water, trying to focus my telescope as it judders in the wind. I was looking for a Slavonian grebe which was sheltering and feeding in the calmer waters right at the opposite end of the broad to where I was standing – isn’t that often the way! Slavonian grebes have stunning summer plumage and breed further north in Scotland and Northern Europe. Cold weather can drive them southwards in the winter and their arrival attracts bird watchers to the Trinity Broads. This time of year they have lost their spectacular breeding colours, showing grey-brown above and pale below. Smaller than our great crested grebe and lacking the winter remnant of  crest that these larger birds show, the slavonians have a bright red eye – if you get close enough to see it - which didn't happen today.

We have also had a red head smew and a female scaup, showing well on Ormesby Little Broad and I took a lunch-break with my Monday conservation volunteers last week to sit in the sunshine (yes it is always sunny here!) to enjoy the views. The arrival of these special winter visitors is often a harbinger of harsh weather further north and moving this way, I hear the forecasts of more rain and then snow and my numb fingers witness to dropping temperatures. Many birds come and shelter here for the winter, I can see over 85 shoveller, numerous tufted duck and pochard. A pintail was seen on Sunday along with seven goldeneye (on Rollesby Broad). We have also had regular sightings of bittern and, as well as marsh harriers, buzzard and peregrine have frequented our air-space and perched to survey their kingdom from broadside trees.
To visit Filby and Ormesby Little Broad park at the car park west of Filby Bridge (Acle side) on A1064.

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