January Patch Magic


New years festivities and more dull wet weather meant a slow start to the year but in pride of place singing early on New Years Morning the robin who has graced the garden every day since.

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After a few days more with little added value but good practice for the end of the month big garden birdwatch I found myself with a few precious minutes to take a look at what is fast becoming my favourite part of my local patch Kissing Alley and Hethersett Hall Lake.

I took the tunnel of overgrowth that surrounds the path from the main road to the Hall’s lake and its surrounding wet woodland and was made to jump with alarming regularity by the sudden appearance and clattering of woodpigeon wings. With some recent great sightings in the area I was expecting something special and an early flash of something large and white was tantalizing hinting of winter swans it was a little disappointing when it turned out to be plastic bags. Not to be put off I stopped in the muddy path  that gives the limited   view of the lake and was greeted by some mallard and moorhen, overdue sightings for the year. Then something bigger and white swam into view. The view below is what I saw through the telescopic camera lens.

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 Not much to look at but with binoculars I was treated to a local rarity a drake goosander fishing in front of the boat house. This is a rare and elegant visitor to Hethersett with very few records so a real treat and a good omen for the forthcoming year.

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Male Goosander Credit: richardblackburn1974 via Compfight cc

The goosander was not to be the last new sighting for the year with some more regulars putting in appearances around the lake with noisy Jay and Egyptian goose making themselves heard. Then out of the lake edge plants swam a pair of gadwall another winter visiting duck and a new record for me and for the area with no previously recorded birds in the area. These simple ducks look a bit ‘dull’ from distance but get close up and they are delicately patterned beauties.

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Gadwall taken last summer in less dull conditions

My short spell of patch magic was finished of with my regular favourite as I became surrounded by calling long-tailed tits on my return trip up Kissing Alley.

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