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January 30th

Opening the curtains this morning it became apparent that overnight we had returned to a snowy landscape once again. It wasn't laying too deep so will hopefully not last too long and when the sun broke out during the morning I became aware of the dripping sounds of thawing. Out of the chill breeze the sun had some warmth and early this afternoon I came across two Little Owls obviously making the most of it. I already knew of one here and a couple of nights ago, as I walked Ossie out after dark, I could hear the eerie, almost childlike wailing of a pair calling to each other. Although Little Owls are widespread in Europe they were once a rare visitor to the UK, occasionally stopping to breed, but todays population traces back to a release of some birds towards the end of the Nineteenth century. Also enjoying the sunshine as I drove up the lane was a contented Chinese Water Deer, at least two of which are resident nearby. Whilst on the subject of small, introduced deer, a Muntjac was beside the A1151 at Sprowston early on Tuesday morning as I drove to work. I crossed my fingers as I passed that it wouldn't dash across in front of me as did a Water Deer a couple of years ago, a dash which led to it's untimely demise. Thankfully this time the deer stayed still.

Little Owl, Happisburgh - 30.01.2010

Chinese Water Deer, Happisburgh - 30.01.2010
The Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still present in the same field at Walcott last Sunday with 68 'Brents' feeding and loafing during the morning. It was difficult to accurately count the subspecific split but at least 35 of those present were hrota. One of them displayed an unusual paler stripe down both sides of it's neck which should render it individually identifiable should it be seen elsewhere. I'm not aware that they were present after this date but the same flock may account for a couple of small parties that have been seen a little further south along the coast. Four Dark-bellied Brents remained in the Walcott field until Friday 29th at least.

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