Saturday, 31 January 2015

Jan 31st Whitlingham Broad

Whitlingham Broad
Today, I am with my mum for a walk around Whitlingham Broad. People were already here doing many leisure activities from model boats to rowing. Many others were using the path that takes you all the way round the broad. We were going to do the same, but not before we use the cafe for a spot of lunch (nice cakes being served here if you must know).

Mute Swan
We decided to go left (clockwise) round the broad, starting from the cafe's car park. We walk past a few people using model sailing boats, while a few mute swans, coots, gulls, mallards, greylag and canada geese share the same shore as them, hoping that they throw some food out for them. Just around the corner, is the rowing club building that looks like a set of those storage things that 'Thunderbird 2' dispatches containing various machines inside. Obviously, there are only canoes and other things stored inside them, not 'Thunderbird 4'.

Egyptian Goose
Past this building, the path gets sandwiched between the broad and the River Wensum. There are wildlife zones on this side of the broad, parts of the lake which the wildfowl have to themselves. There is a blind for us birdwatchers to use to get close with good views of these birds. Most of the birds here today were black-headed gulls and tufted ducks with a few gadwall, a couple of great crested grebes, Egyptian geese and cormorants sitting on the posts marking out these zones out across the water.

Male Tufted Duck
Tufted Ducks
Tufted ducks seemed to be more numerous than mallards here today. These are diving ducks unlike mallards which are dabblers (a duck that only sticks it's head under to feed with it's bottom up on the surface). Males are black and white with a tuft on the head. Females are dark brown without that tuft. Both have yellow eyes. These ducks are shy birds compared to mallards, which is probably why there are many of them in these zones where it is quiet and away from the main path.

Continuing our walk, I spot a clump of green in a tree on the otherside of the river. This was mistletoe, a semi-parasitic plant which is well known as a plant to kiss under at Christmas time. It relies on birds to feed on the white berries. The seeds go through the bird's gut and it comes out via the other end as a sticky mess. It is so sticky, that the bird has to wipe it's rear end onto a branch of another tree to remove it. The plant grows and roots itself to the tree. An interesting plant and so far, this single clump is the only place I have found mistletoe near the Norwich area.

The rest of this lap around the broad was pretty quiet and quite muddy. I did see another great crested grebe, still in it's winter plumage with signs of it's crest beginning to emerge for the breeding season, and a cormorant was fishing out on the open water. The last section of our walk takes us through a small wooded area to the car park. Here, we get a few feet away to a tiny goldcrest. I try to get a shot of it, but goldcrests never stay still for long. Any top tips for photographing goldcrests, anyone?

Finally, at the car park, I watch many black-headed gulls line up in a row along the rooftop of the cafe. If you don't know your gulls, black-headed gulls are small gulls with dark red bills and legs, black wingtips and, at this time of year, a black spot behind the eye.

Black-headed Gulls


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