Hello to you all. It’s been difficult and strange times hasn’t it? I hope you are all keeping well and managing to get a wildlife fix from time to time!
I spent the initial period of lockdown walking regularly around our local fields and woodland and whilst we are in NORFOLK! The mecca for birdwatching that it is, we are 15 miles from the coast and not near any rivers or large bodies of water, so bird wise it was fairly standard fair!
We still enjoyed the arrival of warblers, and my local lanes offered up more Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and Whitethroats than I ever expected.
Just before the lockwdown a surprise Woodcock flushed from the edge of a local bridleway on March 17th, presumably a migrant heading back to Eastern Europe! There was one last seawatch, before the longest period in 20 years of me not seeing the sea! The seawatch was on 23rd March and notables were a Great Skua sat on the sea just offshore, a close in Manx Shearwater moving East and 500 Common Gulls passing East, presumably also moving off to the continent. Red Kite and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were also new year birds for the patch. That was the last coastal birding until late May!
The best birds to be found locally in the first week of lockdown were 2 Mediterranean Gulls 25th April feeding with many gulls following a plough inone of the local fields. There was still a scattering of Fieldfare and Redwing, but Brambling numbers were poor this winter and I couldn’t dig a single one out!
The local woodland and our garden offered up some nice birds Marsh tit (regular on our feeders in the winter), Bullfinch, Yellowhammer Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl. The next good bird locally was a migrant Marsh harrier on 30th March a nice male high over the local woodland in full powered flight.
By the 31st March there was both vocal Chiff-chaff and Blackcap singing in and around the garden. Early mornings were fantastic with the lack of planes and cars and the dawn chorus could be enjoyed like never before. The intro on the cusp of dawn, was Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Blackbirds, soon followed by Chiff-chaff, Blackcap, Robin and Dunnocks. Once light, the lovely chattering and disagreements of Sparrows on and in our roof, for once I was able to just lie there and enjoy it!
Early April I had found a new area to explore, a marginal area of scrub on the edge of farmland, it was an area thats been left and now overgrown with, knee high grass, bramble hawthorns and willows, the sort of habitat that’s in short supply in our farmland these days! On the 4th April the Blackcaps and Chiffs had been joined here by a singing Willow warbler, the area eventually hosting 3-4 territories. I also enjoyed here a Vixen fox with her youngster, holding her gaze as I disturbed them early one morning.
On the 5th April explorations involving footpaths and a bit of freedom to roam and I found a field with cattle and a pair of Lapwing, sadly there aren’t too many breeders in our intensive arable fields, plus on the edge of the village a single Tree Sparrow, another species following the same trend line sadly.
On the 7th April I got up early to look through the moth trap, and a really nice surprise was a flyover Green Sandpiper, silent as well so I was fortunate to just catch it flying over! Also added were 2 flyover Meadow Pipit, which are numerous up early March, but scarce here afterwards. Often overlooked as a migrant, the Meadow Pipit is probably one of our most numerous, with many northern and Scandinavian populations reaching France and Spain for the winter months.
The first of our local breeding Swallows returned on the 10th April, but there was then considerable gap of 2 weeks before the others, thankfully arrived!
On the 12th April, it was good to see a nice group of 20 Yellowhammers plus 30 Linnets all coming down on to wheat thrown down by the local farmer, meant for his pheasants but happy to share with the wild birds! Nearby the newly discovered rough area was also now supporting several Willow warblers, Blackcaps, 4 Whitethroats and 2 Lesser Whitethroats.
Things were pretty static until the 20th April when the first Garden warbler was heard singing in the local woodland, whilst admiring a superb spread of Bluebells. It wasn’t until May 2nd that the first Swifts appeared and then in pretty small numbers, with 2 over the house, more appeared a week or so later, but birds were late and still arriving well in mid May.
By May birding locally around the village was becoming fairly predictable and my attentions became more diverse, with plants, insects, butterflies and moths all newly emerging and appearing on a daily basis. Some of the favourites below!
Hoping we are able to start running tours again come the autumn. Best wishes to you all for now and thank you to all my clients who forwarded bookings and deposits.