We were up early had, breakfast then left the hut at 09:20, destination Hickling Broad NNR, about two miles walk. It was a pleasant walk, mainly by track and footpath, we arrived at the visitors center and attempted to book a place on the 1030 boat trip but unfortunately it was full, but there were some places on the 13:30 so we booked that one in instead.
As we had three hours to while away we started off slowly with a coffee, whilst we sat and drank our coffee we were surprised at the number of birds we spotted just sat there; Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robin, Tits etc. We set off around the reserve stopping off at the Cadbury hide, named after the family who purchased the land and then donated it to the NWT some years ago. The Cadbury family still have a link with the reserve as they lease a lodge deep in the reserve and next to the edge of the open water. When someone is staying they raise an appropriate flag, today a flag with a Marsh Harrier was flying. We did not see much from the hide the I think because the water levels where so low the habitat was not how they had intended it when the hide was built.
In the next hide we thought that a situation was in front of us until Helen spotted a Water Rail. The Water Rail is a very elusive bird normally only observed briefly when they venture out of the reeds. The low water level was to hep us in this situation, the edges need the reeds where the rails would normally feed was dried up forcing it to wander out into the open. We saw it forage slowly and then go into a small patch reeds where we lost sight of it but our patience was rewarded when it came back out into the open for a while before a short flight back into the reeds. Along with the Black Tern yesterday the Water Rail wold be added to the weeks highlights.
Next it was down to the far edge of the reserve and past the Lodge leased by the Cadbury family, where we headed back towards the visitors center making the walk into a circular one. We ate the sandwiches we made back at the hut with another instant coffee then we walked back into the reserve to find the mooring for the boat trip.
There were not many birds to see on trip I think we were just there at the wrong time of year, all the winter wildfowl had left and the spring/summer migrants delayed by the delayed spring weather. The guide had some interesting facts to convey to us, one that stuck out was the story of Emma Turner who was a victorian naturalist who got permission to use an island on the broad which was used for hunting. She had a house boat built and a hide then lived there for the next 25 years, photographing and recording the birds.
We walked back to the hut and got back at 16:30 so we had a long day out in the field. We ventured out to the The Swan pub at Stalham an Adnams pub where the food was great.