short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Seawatch brings a lifer and a late patch visit ....

As I did last year I turned my attention to the sea.  I choose Winterton as I was helping out with my son George's School trip  at Hickling Broad, so had 2 hours free before hand.  My targets were Auks &  Skuas , Little Auk & Pom Skua being top of the list  . 
I arrived at the Sheds and soon caught up with what had been seen early doors by Mick Davis and steve Chapman . As we spoke I quickly connected with a tiny black & White Auk which was going like the clappers heading North . A nice Little Auk which was to be the only one of the day for myself .

Then a fairly close in Bonxie which was harassing a gull for its food .  Then Mick pointed out a RazorBill sat on the sea fairly close .   This was a great view of a bird I only previously  had in flight and often struggle to ID when far out(usually just go down as guilemot in me notes ).  The Auk was showing its Thick Bill, Rather Bull neck and what seemed to be a longer pointed tail then the Guillemots have.  
Then our 2nd Bonxie of the day. As we all got on it another Skua passed by it in scope view.  This bird was less" bulky " and had different flight behaviour to the Bonxie.  The lads called it as a Pom (Pomarine ) Skua which was great but I needed to try get some more ID features before I could tick it (these regular Seawatchers know there birds well unlike me !) This was a dark form Pom , and I soon got white wing flash . More heavier then Artic Skuas but not as much of a bruiser as the Bonxie we have been watching.   Soon enough there was a 2nd Pom Skua and this one was showing "spoons" ( the Broad long  tail shaped like a spoon) but unfortunately for me I struggled to get that unlike the others managed.   At this point Nick and he's son John joint us.  We had a 3rd Bonxie Skua before a large number of Starlings coming in/off the sea and overhead .
Plenty of Red Throated Divers on the sea and moving north & south.
Then a couple of flicks of Common Scoter passed . I got on one flock and soon saw there was a Velvet Scoter in it and  called it out. The obvious White patch /panel on the wing showing nicely as it passed by heading North.

Velvet Scoter with Common Scoter

I then noticed what seemed to be a Auk 
Washed up to the shore.   I decided to check it out and soon realised it was a Guillemot - poor thing . 
Then a trickle of Guillemots and a single Sanderling which flew out from in front of us and then south over the sea. 
Brent Geese heading North and 3 x Eider North ended off a nice session .  
  I quickly packed up and got off to  Hickling Broad to spend time with my son George with hes classmates on  there school trip, which was very educational and great fun for the children (and daddy!). 

George doing a bit of Pond Dipping
They left off at 2pm so I headed back to Winterton for a late afternoon sea watch & then walk in search of the reported Snow buntings .  The Snow Buntings were North of where I was & quite a way up too.  But it was s cracking walk as the sea was quite choppy and no one around.   I have to say I enjoy Birding on my own , probably due to me patching on my own so much .
  I passed a few Seals in the sea close in and a nice flock of Eider passed Northwards .   Then after the 3rd line of Rocks I picked up the flock of Snow Buntings! There were 11 in total and they were more then happy to come land about 20 feet away from me .  I soaked it up as I haven't had time to connect with this species for a few years so was a good Moment to study them .
Best bit about it for me was I had them all to myself, no Dog walker or   even a Birder in sight .
Snow Bunting

I decided after 40 minutes with en and a quick glance at the sea to start walking back. As I did I had a close in Red Throated Diver which was nice .


 I got back to the van and realised Mick had kindly put my Seat & pad on my Bonnet (top bloke !). Must of left it at the sheds in the morning while rushing off!  
 Later this week I decided to spend a hour or so at North denes, Great Yarmouth as again I was helping out at school trip (sea life centre) this time for my daughter,Sophia's class.   
A nice flock of Meadow pipits greeted me on arrival and soon I was watching a Red Throated Diver close in .
Huge amount of Cormorants were out at sea along with Gannets and the usual expected gulls.  

I decided to spend a few hours walking up California beach.  My first visit here and was a great spot for future visits in sure although today was rather quiet.  Highlight was a Rock Pipit which flew in nearby and settled on a Rock.  Then a smart Adult Med Gull was on the sea among BHGulls .
RTD were passing by in singles and a Single Guillemot headed North the only other bird of note.
So a good couple of enjoyable Sea watches this week with a Lifer in Pom Skua too! 
Just the one patch visit this last couple of weeks , on the 5th November. I decided to go an hour before dark to focus on doing a Roost /Pre-Roost count at the marshes and broad .
The water was empty , apart from some Black headed gulls which soon flew off East .
A Flock of Gold finches gathered south of the Broad & 2x Gt spotted woodpecker called as I made my way round to the East marsh and found my favoured spot ,ready to note what drops in and passes overhead.  As it approached 4pm the sun started to set and the Meadow pipits started to drop into the marsh.  Around 10 gathered overhead calling away as they slowly dropped in. By the end of the visit I would count at least 24.
I then noticed my first of 7 flocks of Starlings going over East.  I took pictures of each flock and later would count them as best I could . I made it around 3,000 Starlings in total. 


The Magpies had now gathered up to 20+ and were now in the scrub/trees and stayed there till when I left, well after dark so assumed they roosted in there ? But knowing if the Roosts over the water at Whitlhngam I wondered if they may have left to join it .
Ducks were dropping in at dusk and list as follows-
Shoveler -3(2 drake) 
Tufted -9 
Then a C.Buzzard flew North low over the Marsh. Not used to seeing a Buzzard so late in the day .
Of note 2x Cetti's warblers were heard and As I left a Tawny owl was calling and more Common Snipe departed from the marsh given a total count of 8 but more I'm sure as darkness set in  , a great visit !
Happy birding


Thursday, 11 October 2018

A Pair of Pec’s , a Bunting, a Pipit & a Starling!

So on the 2nd of this month I managed to pop into Buckenham Marshes to see if the 2x Pectorial Sandpipers we’re still there as reported the previous few days. Sure they were and within 5 minutes I was watching them both feeding along with a Dunlin for size comparison. My second & third sighting of this species.

 On the 8th I nipped off work early to get up to Waxham to see if I could connect with the Ortalon Bunting which had been reported the day before.  I meet up with Matt and we made a way down to the caravan park and joined the small crowd.
Seals on Waxham shore

While there waiting we had at least 4 x flight views of a Richard Pipit but always mobile . Then we had the Ortalon Bunting in flight twice before lost to view as it flew north and landed . Not the views I wanted but as I walked back to the  van I had the bird on the pathway at the dunes tops. I watched it as it flew up and dropped again before I saw it quickly fly off to the middle of the nearby bush before flying south back towards the crowd . Great bird and my 285 th British bird and 271st Norfolk bird.
 Then today the 11th where I got myself to see the Rose-Coloured Starling which has decided to settle in  a garden in among a housing estate. I joined around 10 other local birders outside before the owner kindly opened the door and invited us inside. We were soon watching the Starling feeding in the owners garden. Great views of only by second sighting of this bird and it was my first adult bird so even better. I was  able to get a video and picture which nice !

Rose-Coloured Starling

 So a rewarding  October ,bird wise so far.  But the month isn’t over yet!
 Happy Birding

Thursday, 12 April 2018

March- Patch sightings, Patch Lifer, Father & Son time and birdwatching at Football!

After the Beast from the East had past temperatures stayed cold but soon got a little milder with a few sunny days but remained pretty miserable
 Highlights of the month would be the Caspian Gull I found on the 9th March. Among some Herring gulls I picked it out as firstly looking " interesting" to say the least.  I started to go through the features and at this point a couple of  birders approached me and asked if I had seen the Caspian gull.  I was now more confident that I was right to go with my gut instinct of it being a Caspian !  Although just coz we felt it was I still wasn't 100 per cent and after a few pictures and going away to chew it over ( and a few respected birders given there help as regards ID) I was happy.  This was a uk lifer for me and my 125th patch bird species !

 Not as rare but for me equally as exciting was finding 3x Bullfinches on the 21st.   These stunning birds aren't rare of course but although I know there resident I'll rarely connect with em. I made sure I soaked it up , as these are my Favourite British bird .

Male BullFinch

Male and Female BullFinch
 A pair and a single Male were observed among some Thickets and brambles before making there way into some bushes and trees.  
I managed to connect with this pair again on the 29th and watched as they fed among the buds . Superb birds and in there spring ,breeding plumage ,simply striking . A little video below of what I saw over them 2 days here:-
Now before I list some sightings , I would like to say another highlight from the month for me was seeing how keen my son George (6yr) was to come along to the Patch with he's binoculars' to see what was on the Broad . We went straight after he's footy training. It was very cold and damp but this didn't stop him insisting we went to check out what was there. I was very proud of him  to say the least! Ill Include some pictures below-

George checking the railway line in hope of a Fox!
Georges notes from the visit

 Now back to the highlights from the patch and starting off with what was seen  On the Broad it self the main highlights were -
Pochard x 22 on the 4th but dropping to 10 on the 9th and a single male remaining till the 29th.

Drake Pochard
Tufted duck numbers peaked at 78 on the 5th , 49 on the 13th and down to 24 on the 29th.
Gadwall went from 52 on the 4th and then down to 15 on the 18th and 17th on the 29th.
Shoveler were at 12 (6pr) on the 4th, 9 on the 15th,17 on the 22nd and 8 on the 25th.
Teal as usual tricky to count as so many tucked away but counts of 18 on the 4th were down to 4(2pr) on the 29th were observed.

Drake Wigeon and pair of Shoveler
The single drake Wigeon was only seen on the 4th but not after.
As mentioned in previous blog post I had my patch tick of a Drake Pintail on the 4th & 5th , a nice Redhead Smew on the 5th and the Goosander on the 4th. But on the 18th after a fairly average visit a Pair of Goosanders flew over heading South/east which was a nice sight . 

Drake Goosander
* Of note it's worth mentioning that local birder Bill had spotted 2x Red Crested Pochards in the afternoon of the 17th march , no doubt the same birds which Justin lansdell had found on Whitlhngam in the morning the same day.   
I tried to find them the next day but no luck. One to look out for in the coming years !*
Back to the Broad and a couple of Lapwings sightings were recorded on the 5th , where 9 birds were seen on the West Shingle Beach and 6 on the 13th but none after this date.
A pair of Oystercatchers were seen on the 4th and there after on every visit . (Digi scpe Picture below taken by my son George)

George enjoyed finding these Oystercatchers

Total of 5x Common Snipe recorded flying off from the East marsh on the 4th & 22nd but in a late visit on the 25th at least 16 were seen departing at dusk and Formed a tight flock over head.  Many more were heard afterwards but I couldn't be sure if I was double counting or not.
That same date of the 25th while joined with Matthew Shore  I had 2x Male Tawny Owls calling as darkness set and then had the joy of watching a Barn Owl  hunt around the Broad edge and across the Marsh.  We listened to at least 3x Water Rails calling as we continued to watch the Barn owl
While we watched we were alerted to the Marsh in front of us.  A call which we both thought was not "bird like " and after a little while we agreed it was an Otter. In fact we saw one in the dyke and then at least 4 were calling in and among the dykes in front of us.  A wonderful sight to see as they went made there way through the marsh !
 Finally of note a Little Egret was seen on the 13th, A single Kingfisher was seen on 4 visits and 3x Stock Doves seen on every visit accept on the 29th when I had 4.

Little Egret
Nice to also see a Red Legged Partridge calling on the West beach on the 15th , a bird not regularly visual seen  here .

 The month ended with my first real signs of spring with some returning birds to the patch. A Blackcap seen and heard briefly singing on the 29th and then a singing Chiffchaff on the same date,  These were both my earliest spring records for these species at the patch !
In all a very good month and now ready for some calmer, more milder April with some passing and returning migrants to look out for!
 I'll end my post with a quick couple of picture of my trip to the London staduim with my son George to see our club West Ham play Southampton which I'm happy to say ended in us winning 3v0 much to me and my sobs joy!
But it was our experience along the canal river and with the Ponds. Gardens around the Stadium which I wanted to share. It was great to be able to share all 3 of my favorite loves in life in one day- My son ,Wildlife and my club I support West Ham United ..... Good times indeed⚒

1 of the ponds and beautiful features that sits outside the London Stadium
Along the Canal, feeding the Mute Swans , Coots and Canadian Geese
Happy birding


Friday, 6 April 2018

March ..."Beast From The East" hits the patch!

March started off where February left off...with 4 foot of snow and freezing temperatures !I was off work for a few days so spent it  building Snowmen and plenty of Snowball fighting with the kids!
But on the 4th I decided to put the Snowballs down and  head to the patch. A early start was made and I was at the bridge at 6.45am start in hope of something special .

River Yare at 6.45am

There had been reports of 4x Drake Pintails and with a Redhead Smew on Whitligham the day before I was hopeful.
 As I made my way down the west path I scanned the path and to my surprise  I saw a Barn owl perched ! A Barn owl isn't a bird seen as regularly as I would like here at the patch, In fact it was May last year that I last saw one hunting over the East Marsh and before that June 2016 so I really appreciated this moment.

Barn Owl

I walked on after digi scoping a short clip on my phone and surprised at how close it allowed me  but with the cold and snow laid over the ground ,I'm assuming this bird was struggling with the elements and search for food.
 On the water itself I quickly picked up the Wigeon pair and then a Drake Goosander ! Another to the year list but surprisingly my 4th Goosander of the winter (all 4 drakes).

Drake Goosander
 I continued scanning the Broad and then i picked up a Drake Pintail at rest on the Broad Edge in among the reeds and vegetation. I waited for it to wake to get a proper look at this smart Duck but although I waited an hour (toes were frozen from standing still in the snow ) it didn't wake so decided to move on around to the south side of the Broad. That Pintail was my  124th species for the patch and as happy as I was I really wanted to see it awake so I planned to call back the next day.  I finished the morning off with 12x Shoveler, 22x Pochard,18 x Teal, 52 x Gadwall and 48 x Tufted ducks. Nice to see the 4x Little Grebes still presence too . 

  The following day with still snow laying on the ground I returned to the patch to see if I could locate the Drake Pintail . It wasn't long before I picked it up making its way along the reed edge of the Broad . 

(Drake) Pintail

   It was only out on view for 10 minutes before disappearing no doubt resting or up side down feeding. After this I picked  up a female Smew (probably the bird which was on Whitlingham the the day before). Pintail & Smew in the same day , this was proper patch Gold !
(female) Smew
Of note also from this visit was 6 x Little Grebes (my highest ever count for this species since ive been coming here) , 9 x Lapwings, 78 x Tufted 176 x Black headed Gulls. A great few days birding at the patch in the Freezin cold snow but it had its rewards!

Video clip below of some of the birds I saw over them couple of days of the Beast of the East....

 Happy birding

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Family and Nature......A Perfect Combination!

 So a break from blogging about my  highlights of my Patch  ,  I thought I would write a piece on how my love for nature &  my family have combined together . 
  Well before my 2 beautiful children were born me & my wife Caterina would love to go for walks out in the country or along the Broads , Nature Reserves or simply walking in the Park, so when George & Sophia came along it was only natural that we continued this on.  Over the years we have pushed the Buggy over many Nature reserves, parks and national  trusts places but as they are now both at school  ( George 6 and Sophia 4yrs) I've now got them a note pad each and explorer kits and tried to get out at least one day of the weekend , somewhere outdoors and so far it's been the best thing ever !
  We have made visits to Icksworth and Sheringham among other national trusts sites usually with friends or grandparents , where the children have gone "bug hunting " and of course daddy's favorite "some birdwatching " or simply climbing a tree.  
Family fun with my brother Mike & his family and grandparents

We have gone to reserves like RSPB Strumpshaw Fen and Sculthorpe moor , both great for families . Thet also have great family friendly Bird hides and always a kids Bird spotting tick list on hand.  Easter hunt at both these places were superb last year, as are there Halloween trials . 
Ticking off the birds seen at RSPB Strumpshaw fen

Sculthorpe Moor

Sculthorpe Moor is very children friendly....and Buggy friendly!

Another love of me & my wife is walking in the countryside and probably one of the places closet to us that we enjoy is High Ash Farm , near Stoke Holy cross. It's a great place to go to for a  simple stroll and to enjoy the singing Sky larks over head or the feeding flocks of finches in the fields along with great mix of Trees and meadows to admire. 
 These places  ive mentioned don't cost much and in the last example nothing at all !( donations are gratefully accepted of course).  

High Ash Farm-Kids just love the simple pleasure of running through a meadow or a path of Daisies

  So why do we do it or why do I recommend it ..? Well I can only speak for myself and our family but it's a sense of freedom you get when u can run through a field , look and smell the wild flowers , listen to the birds singing or wildfowl splashing In  the water & of course in most cases hearing just the sound created from the wildlife surrounding you , without the sound of machines or noise from the towns & cities.  I think there's nothing better to me then seeing my children exerting themselves stretching there legs running and laughing as they make there way through a field, or finding something  new and  then finding out what it is later through the use of books we have.... It's an education and as I've said before ... It's Free! 

   Ok it's sometimes hard as a parent to find time with busy life's we leed and of course as I'm finding out now George & Sophia are both at school , birthday partys seem to be happening every weekend ! But  sometimes an hour or 2 is enough for the children and usually you don't have to  walk/drive that far to find a Field, Meadow , Broad or Reserve  .  
 Not long ago   I got chatting to Mary walker recently while watching a local Ring Ouzel ( local twitch!) and she mentioned she had a Tawny Owl breeding in a box she put up.  Before we knew it was in her garden and watching a resting adult bird outside on the box  . 
Tawny Owl

I knew I had to take my wife , George & Sophia here to see this beautiful ,not often seen nocturnal bird . I Arranged a date and got back a week later to see the young outside the box , it was amazing.   The kids loved using daddy's Scope to view the bird and we're excited to try find the 3rd baby owl which had Branched into a nearby tree. (baby Owls are  known as Owlets) .
George and Sophia looking through the scope to see the Tawny Owls.
Owlets on the box entrance

We can see yeh hiding!

 George and Sophia spoke about it in the car and George was keen to write it in he's birding note book and of course he's little sister had to do the same ! 
   Making notes , drawings of cutting out animals from the NWT or  RSPB magazines is something they love too on a rainy day , it's all learning and helping them gain a love for nature .
Writing, coloring in , making notes or simply cutting out pictures of there favorite Birds or animals .....its all learning and most importantly... its Fun!

   It's these moments that I personally will always remember and I like to think the children will too. 
I printed up the pictures and George took them to school with some information written down about the Tawny owls and  there breeding habits , and shared with the class. This was not only great fun but importantly Very Educational .
Me and my beautiful daughter Sophia after I visited her school, talking about my passion for Birds.
  I was lucky enough to be asked to come into my Daughters school and speak about my Hobby Birdwatching. It was a superb experience as the children were so excited to share with me there love for Birds and Nature.
 I really enjoyed every second of it and especially when we got to go outside and use the Binoculars & Scope that I had brought along with me. We managed to tick off plenty of different species over the 30 minute session outside and they were smiling the whole time as was I.  My daughter felt very proud of me she told me after and enjoyed being my special little helper that day.......That warmed my heart I must say!
   So there you go , a little bit about me and what I get up to on the weekends with my beautiful family when I'm not  birdwatching at my patch, NWT Thorpe St Andrews Broad/marsh . 
  Hope this was a good read and maybe I'll do it again in a few years time , when the kids are  a bit older ( goes so quick!) .
Seal Watching on Norfolk Coast
  Anyway,  as always.....
             Happy Birding!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Februarys Patch sightings ....NWT Thorpe St Andrews Broad /Marsh

  February started off cold, damp and ended with 3-4 foot of snow.

 Starting off with the broad  and noticeably the Shoveler numbers started to drop as the month went on. A count of 35 on the 2nd but by the 27th they were at just 13.
 Also the Pochard were at 40 by the middle of the month but down to 9 on 27th also.
 Gadwall numbers of 97 on the 7th and  at 71 on the 27th .
Tufted counts were 66 on the 2nd,  74 on the 16th  and as low as 19 on the 27th. 
Teal were around 25-28 on each visit ( plenty more hiding I'm sure though) 
Pair of Wigeon seen on the 7th and a count of 23 x Coots on the 19th of note.

I had 6x Common Snipe flushed from east marsh and a pleasing sight to see 3x Kingfishers seen on the 19th which equals my highest count here. 
 On the 27th it had snowed ( beast from the east finally arrived!) and I made sure a trip to the patch as these unpredictable weather changes can bring a few surprises or mis placed birds to any inland patch .  
The Gulls were starting gather and around 150+ Black Headed Gulls were  seen on the 27th with 39x Herring Gulls
 Of note was my earliest recorded Green sandpiper on the West of the Broads edge .

Record shot of my earliest Green Sandpiper
Also 2x Woodcock were seen taking to the air from the east marsh due to a dog flushing them. These being My first for the winter and always a good bird to see on any day.
 On the frozen dykes I saw Water rails slipping as they scrabbled away from my precent . Total of 3 birds were seen and all very showy.
 While I was watching the Water rails I picked up on my only 3rd patch record of a Stoat. It was running around in the snow and along the Pool edges.   It quickly spotted me and soon disappeared though . 
 My first Little Egret sighting of the year too was seen on this snowy , cold day ,as one flew over westwards just as I was taking a Digi scope picture of the wintering male Stonechat , which was still at its usual spot . 
Male Stonechat
   Now to bird no.123 for the patch!  I was alerted to a report from local  birder Gary white , who had found a Mandarin duck near the bridge on the New cut of the river.   I woke early in the 25th and set up on the green at the Rushcutters pub and within seconds picked it up right in front of me.

Mandarin duck viewed from Rushcutters pub
  It swam about for around 5 minutes and then back to the bridge to rest. Wasn't expecting a new bird species for the patch in February so was well chuffed!

Mandarin Duck-Bird Species no.123 for the Patch

 So as the month came to an end we were currently under 3-4 foot of snow and freezing temperatures, I wonder what March would have in store and the wildlife therefore.
Happy birding


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Janaurys Patch Sightings.......

  Will January started off cold and wet , with a lot of high water levels on the River Yare which meant a lot of flooding, particularly on the Marsh. Also a few light snow showers and couple of hard frosts but that said we escaped the worse of it ( up north had it quite bad with heavy snow falls).

Marsh and footpaths flooded

As usual the Broad was where the action was......
Shovelers counts of 30 on the 8th and around 16 on the 23rd with Pochard up to 46 on the 8th but dropping off to 19 by end of month.
Teal numbers as usual hard to count but around 37 on the 23rd was nice.
Tufted duck was around 19 but up to 34 on the 23rd. Gadwall were in highest numbers though with 45 at start of month and on 23rd up to 62 .
Also of note was 3x Little Grebes present on each visits and Lapwings seen on the 8th and 23rd, a count of 9 on the latter.
Highest counts of Coot were on the 8th of 26 and 2x Common Snipe were seen on the 8th.
A notable count of 14x  Mallards were seen on the 8th which was nice . Although common on Thorpe River Green just further along River never that many seen on the Broad during the day ( numbers do arrive on to marsh at dusk though )
Also 18 x Herring Gulls was of note ,gathered on the West beach of broad on the 23rd.
Great Crested Grebes as always present, an Adult bird and what looks to be a 1st Winter bird seen on every visit too.
Nice to see hear and see the Grey Wagtails still present with 2 birds seen on the 8th and 3 on the 23rd.

Grey Wagtail

The month ended cold but with sunny days and some picturesque moments given.  A added bonus was my beloved West Ham United went the Month unbeaten and up to 11th in the league (started the month in relegation position) so Moyes seems to be sorting it out a bit!
Happy birding
Ricky ⚒

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

December's Patch Highlights-A new species for the patch and more!

December had its cold weeks and some mild days which brought plenty of rain.  I managed to get soaked on one visit and extremely cold on the others but it had its rewards!

much of the marsh is now flooded. Wellies are a must!
As expected the broad was where most of the action was at, with good numbers of Wildfowl. 
One highlight was my personal  highest count of Shovelers for the year and possibly for patch in the 7 years I've been recording here.
On the 30th I had a total of 25 which is up on my personal highest yearly count which was 17 on the 1st of November , so all good.

Shoveler Ducks
Also of note the Pochards were still in good numbers with 55 on the 5th and up to 69 on the 12th. 
Teal were as usual hard to count as so many resting up in among the Broads edge . A total of  at least 51 on the 12th and 43 on the 30 th which could easily be doubled with so many coming out as I finished my counts typically ! 
Tufted duck numbers were lower then previous month but that said they do seem to favour Whitlingham broad and numbers at Thorpe Broad only seem to be high ive found from experience if a disturbance or event is on at Whitlingham. Highest count was on the 12th with 26.
There was most noticeably a influx of Gadwall on the Broad compared to Novembers counts. 
On the 5th there were 88 , 139 on the 12th & 102 on the 30th  . 
Little Grebes were seen every visit with 3 on the 12th  and at least 3x Water Rails were heard on every visit too .
Other things of note were 4x Lapwings on the 30th, 4x Common Snipe on the 12th and 2x Grey wagtails on each visit coming in to roost some where up river . 
Highlight of the month for me though was the male Bearded tit which had been seen around  the middle of the month (13th )and while resting up at home feeling sorry for myself on the 22nd ,after being very ill the previous day I was alerted that it was showing "very well" ! I tried to resist but after speaking to Justin on the phone  and then hearing James had seen it too I dragged me self down there. Arrived to see Justin who assured me it would be worth the efforts and true it was ! The bird spent around 5 minutes along the ditch in front of us giving superb views ! 
(photo curtesy of Justin  Lansdell) Male Bearded Tit - no.122 for the patch life list
This was my 122 species for the patch ,Thorpe Marsh/broad and one I wasn't expecting, so  you can imagine I went home very chuffed if not a little drained for me efforts ! 
Of note a Kingfisher dropped into the ditch where we stood and around 20+ Siskins were seen which was around 25 on the 30 th.
All in all a good month to be at the patch!
Happy birding and a happy new year to all