Our first site is Dersingham Bog to look for the exotic golden pheasant. This is an alien species from China, but a feral population is established here. It is a colourful bird with gold and scarlet plumage and a long tail. They were introduced here as a gamebird in the late 1800's, but they discovered that golden pheasants prefer to hide in dense vegetation than to fly into the aim of their guns. To see one you need to get here dawn (or dusk), but I couldn't persuade my dad to get up early. So, I had to make do with a late morning walk instead.
In the woods, large mixed flocks of long-tailed tits. blue tits, coal tits and goldcrests were patrolling the thin branches. It is always good to check a flock of tits as other small birds like goldcrests often tag along during the winter months. As for those golden pheasants, the best place to look are under Rhododendron bushes. Even with those striking colours, though, a golden pheasant is a master of 'hide and seek' and it clearly demonstrates this as I fail to see one this morning.
The sun was beginning to set as we made are way back. But then, Roydon gave us a conoslation prize that you could say is even better than a shrike. A female hen harrier was out hunting. She was distant but that 'V'-shaped flight posture that all harriers do with their wings gave her away as a harrier. You could also make out a white patch on her back near her ringed (or banded) tail. Her body is brown and her head is owl-like with yellow eyes. She is beautiful enough on her own, but then I saw another harrier. This was a male hen harrier. He looks completely different as he is pale grey with wingtips that appear as if they were dipped in black ink. These rare birds come to roost here at Roydon during winter months. Hen harriers (as far as I know), don't breed in Norfolk but arrive here for winter from Europe and Northern Britain instead. This is a special sight for me and Dad, who has never seen one before, and it makes up for missing out on the golden pheasant and the shrike.