In the last post I identified that there is still a lot of winter birding to enjoy whilst celebrating a bit of Spring. Today I got a brief opportunity to check the West Hethersett Loop and the weather was definitely Wintery with North winds and frequent showers. Whilst I waited for the worst of the winter down pour to pass I checked out the water meadows and fields either side of Market Lane. I was rewarded with a splendid grey heron in full breeding plumage. I had to do a double take as it was very white from a distance and might have been the great white egret which has been frequenting Bowthorpe marshes for the last couple of weeks. It was not to be but nice to see and it was in company with some greylag geese . Next on my warm car journey was a flock of thrushes. I pulled over and watched as the flock was joined by another and another soon I counted 80 fieldfares.
The fieldfares were in company with a flock of starlings and small numbers of woodpigeons, black-headed gulls and a magpie. They were put up into a whirling flurry of birds at the appearance of a sparrowhawk. Fieldfares are winter thrushes visiting the village in only the coldest times to feed on berries. Even in mild winters they can be seen in flocks around the outskirts but the numbers today are unusual and perhaps hint that they are gathering for a return towards their breeding grounds in Northern Europe and Siberia.
With the wet weather briefly breaking I went out bravely on foot to check down around the Great Melton reservoir there was initially little about with a coupe more geese a moorhen and some mallards. High in the alders above the lake I heard the sound of first Goldfinches and then of their winter visiting cousins Siskins. They were a little distant and the light was abit tricky but this record shot gives the idea of my first local siskins since I moved to the area several years ago.
Male siskin on favoured food source Alder cones
The males can be really bright and this one (below) taken elsewhere the week before shows how they can almost glow in the right light. Certainly two new records for the year that show the value of stepping out into the weather to enjoy nature even if you do need to wrap up warm.
Glowing Male Siskin now just need to get one close enough to get a sharp shot.