As well as local birding it is the time of year when winter highlights crop up in unexpected paces in nearby Norwich. I often have cause to travel the riverside paths at the rear of the Cathedral and there are often urban specialties to be seen. Of course there are the ever present feral pigeons usually joined by black-headed gulls and all on the look out for the local peregrine falcons. I was drawn to the area this week by some of the irregular cormorants who do incessant circuits along the river looking for and undisturbed place to touch down and fish.
The city standard feral pigeon
Whilst I tried and failed to get a photo of the cormorants i was alerted by the peep peep of a kingfisher and I got to watch it fishing off a small stump in the river. I walked round to the area which I have seen it fishing several times recently but it had moved further up river. The bird is often with its mate at the rear of the Great hospital and fishing just by the countries only surviving swan pit.
The Uk’s last surviving swan pit
The swan pit is likely to date from medieval times and would have been filled with wild cygnets which had their wings clipped to prevent them escaping and would have eventually found themselves served up to wealthy diners. Whilst checking out my background facts I found a pictures of the pit in use as recently as the 1920’s
The city still had some other inspiration after the king fisher had gone A short drive away at St Stephens and I was treated to a repeat of last winters starling murmeration with just short of a couple of thousand birds wheeling in formation over the rooftops and traffic jams. Also well worth a visit, and again a repeat of last year, is the pied wagtail roost at Norwich station with 100 plus birds festooning the trees.
One of the stars of the show grabbing a quick drink before joining a thousand cast members for the nights routine.
Back in the village and there have been some fine clear mornings this week bringing a touch of frost but a welcome change to the constant grey that December offered. Highlights for me have come around the Hall again wit the first nuthatch and treecreepers of the year along with a roe deer stag browsing the hedge margins. There have also been good sized flocks of Goldfinches which I have scanned for other winter finches to no avail. A brief stop at lower wood Ashwellthorpe offered greater success with a lesser redpoll in amongst the Goldfinches there.
Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe a remnant of ancient wood that once would have covered most of the country, well worth visiting for some ancient time out.
Dont forget that next weekend is Big Garden birdwatch so check out the finches for the unexpected winter visitors such as the redpoll.