We had a very pleasant days birding which started at Strumpshaw with Marsh Harriers, Coal and Marsh Tits on the feeders but nothing else of note. A seawatch at Winterton produced Gannets, Guillemots, Common Scoters, Red-throated divers and a brilliant Grey Phalarope fly-past. A cold vigil at Stubbs Mill resulted in 20+ Marsh Harriers, 10 Common Cranes and a few groups of Pink-footed Geese - not our best visit there but still enjoyable.
Of course we had to try for the Western Sandpiper at Cley. Along with many others we watched this charming little bird busily pottering along the shoreline of Simmond's Scrape from Avocet hide.
We drew a blank at Holkham looking for the Rough-legged Buzzard and apart from flocks of winter geese there was little else about.
A visit to Welney to catch up with the Bewicks and Whoopers gave us some good views, although the birds were distant.
Four trips to Burwell Fen in the past few weeks have yielded some good views of the Short-eared Owls that are wintering there. Today we had some of our best views, though not easily photographed.
The afternoon sun showed the varying plumage of the birds at their best. There were at least two dark birds, one with russet 'infill' on the upper wings and some on the body. The other with very little russet. The other birds were all paler to varying degrees. We saw at least six but as they are not inclined to fly simultaneously it's difficult to say if there were more.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Birding Year in 2012!