An early morning walk in the frosty morning on the West Hethersett Loop produced some new patch sightings for the year and a previously prophesied unusual sighting. Last April I saw a friendly greylag goose and a Canada goose sharing each others company and on the Great Melton reservoir this week were a pair of canadas and three pairs of greylags who were very vocal as they sort out early breeding season pairings. Floating in between these straightforward geese were a couple of hybrid youngsters
A pair of Greylag x Canada geese
The early morning walk also produced my first singing skylarks of the year accompanied on a vocal level by chaffinches which were singing strongly alongside wrens. the small brown wrens are one of the most common British birds and sing well beyond their tiny size but they are rarely seen. The wrens alternative common name of titmouse gives a clue as to why they are rarely seen and quite difficult to photograph. They move about like mice usually out of sight in the undergrowth looking for small insects but as we move towards spring they like other hard to spot species start to sing on more obvious perches. This week I paid a visit to Lyndford Arboretum and manged to finally catch up with the little brown songster.
Jenny Wren a more unusual view
Jenny Wren the more usual skulking view
Lynford produced its usual highlights including many tree creepers and nuthatches as well as siskins and the wailing little grebes but the real highlight was the arrival on cue of a couple of hawfinch in the tops of the hornbeam trees in the paddocks.Haw finch are the most impressive British finch with a massive nut cracking bill capable of splittig the hardest nuts on offer.
Lynford was not finished but also offered a number of goldcrests as well as a singing fire crest which remained hidden within its favoured conifer trees. Also on offer were the full range of tits including great tits. coal tits, long tailed tits and a host of blue tits attracted by the feeders which are regularly topped up.
Blue tits on masse
Having failed to get to one of my annual pilgrimages to Common Farm I took the opportunity to drop in briefly to the RSPB reserve at Dearne Valley which is a fantastic , if distant reserve with highlights of willow tit (now almost impossible to see in Norfolk) tree sparrows (common farm specialty) as well as the commoner Norfolk bird the bearded tit wich they have on offer after 30 years absence. The reserve offers the birder photographer everything they would want. The mid day lighting was against me but the following are the regulars on offer.
Tree Sparrow with its chestnut crest easy to see with many nesting around the bird screens
Female siskin not seen recently in Hethersett but available in the winter
The siskins were joined by yellow hammer, lesser redpoll, reed bunting, numerous ‘charms’ of goldfinches, however the only decent photo opportunity was of the National bird and village regular the robin.
The aptly named tree sparrow farm was also busy with Pheasant, magpie and stock doves which are yet to be seen by me locally this year.
Stock dove with its fabulous metallic neck with its much more common cousin the collared dove in the foreground
Returning to Norfolk I shall leave you with my favourite from RSPB Titchwell from a very grey weekend on grey mud looking for his tea .
Redshank showing off his ‘red shanks’