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January 22nd

Having missed the small flock of Pale-bellied Brents on the 9th, I was pleased to hear that another party had taken a liking to a winter cereal field at Walcott, apparently arriving at the weekend. I managed to get over for a look on Tuesday afternoon, quite late in the day, and immediately saw them feeding quite close to the main coast road. There were 59 birds in the flock, 44 of which were pale-bellied hrota, the remaining 15 being of the dark-bellied race bernicla which is the subspecies that visits Norfolk to spend the winter months feeding mostly on the saltmarshes of the North Norfolk coast where Eelgrass Zostera forms a favoured part of their diet. They are really quite charming geese and I couldn't resist a couple more visits, glad that they had chosen to hang around. Seemingly quite fearless of normal daily life along the coast road, they were unflustered by cars, dog walkers and the like. The only time I saw them upset was when a helicopter flew over on passage to an offshore rig, their reaction being to take to the air only to return after a brief fly-round. They remained all week although birds must have come and gone, for this afternoon there were circa 46 birds present with the dark to pale ratio roughly 50/50. Also at Walcott on Tuesday a Purple Sandpiper was on the slipway there.

Other than the geese it has been a quiet few days, a few sightings of Barn Owl on my travels and a largish flock of Fieldfares and Redwings around our home lane being most noteworthy. A few birds are also beginning to sound out their territories I've noticed, with Wren, Dunnock and Robin all heard singing towards dusk.

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