Having spent a warm spring day mostly outside I find myself naturally thinking of highlights, however probably the stand out moment of last week was on another cold grey day when I took a quick BBC (birding by car) opportunity to check for the flock of fieldfares I had seen the previous week on Market Lane. As I kerb crawled between high mixed hedges and checked out the overhanging oak trees I was suddenly surrounded by a swirling mass of fieldfares and starlings. I had to stop the car for fear of one of them hitting it as they poured past on either side and over head. It was almost possible to feel the panic as they evaded an unseen predator. Having passed through the vortex of birds I parked my space cruiser for a moment and scanned the fields to see if there was any trace of them but all that was on offer were some oblivious pheasants and wood pigeons. On closer inspection a flock of 15 pigeons turned out to be their more delicate cousins stock doves and easily the largest group of these birds I have seen locally.
Stock dove (note the lack of white neck ring of the larger woodpigeon)
On Sunday morning I had a text threatening to surpass my previous highlight and I set out on an urgent twitch. Twitching is not something I am naturally prone to do and certainly I didn’t hire a helicopter to catch up with some windblown vagrant in the far outer reaches of the Hebrides. I jumped in my car and drove down the road to the farm shop where a short while earlier a red kite had been seen feeding by the road. Alas the spectacle wasn’t going to wait for me, but on such a upliftingly sunny morning it was difficult to be disappointed as I was serenaded by the local rooks and jackdaws now seriously thinking about nesting as well as chaffinches and great tits. There were also pairs of blue tits and long-tailed tits who now appear to be looking for territories as much as food.
My stopping point for a safe scan of the skies over looked St Remigius Church and I thought the photo was bird free but the eagle eyed viewer could possibly pick out a mallard sunbathing along with a woodpigeon and a host of rooks in their rookery and flying to it. I did a double check of the spire for a long awaited peregrine which I had seen a earlier in the week on the Cathedral and hope to see soon nesting in the new box on Wymondham Abbey (Click here for details).
Having failed with the kite but not wishing to miss out on more birds I grabbed my six year old assistant and we headed for Whitlingham Country park. We were both keen to see some Egyptian Geese chicks which we had seen the first of the previous grey day at Pensthorpe. Whitlingham was missing Egyptian geese altogether and many of the winter visiting ducks are also thinning out. The tufted ducks were my highlight and the mallards were my assistants. Here follows a brief selection of our favourite photos.
Male Tufted duck one of about 25 on the broad
Male Mallard one of a similar number to the tufted ducks
Plenty of pairs of long-tailed tits out nest site spotting Always trick to catch them without a twig in front.They were often found with goldcrests which were also abundant, as were many small flocks of siskins. My final capture from Whitlingham was also my fourth patch tick of the week with a lone flyover bird this seen afternoon whilst my assistant wore out the recreation ground slide.
Lesser Black-backed gull (Left ) with its smaller black-headed friend left in for a reminder of the size difference.
I shall leave you with another taste of a warm spring day with some cultivated sunshine slightly at odds with their wild back ground in Station Lane this morning. Roll on Easter and its birding highlights.