Fine spring weather this week has got me out and about the village eager to find the first spring migrants. Around the county the first wheatears are arriving on the coasts along with the first sand martins. By this time last year the first chiffchaffs were singing in woods around the village but still no sign of them yet. This time of year is also the best time to see and hear our woodpeckers and trips out to the west and around Hethersett Hall have been rewarded with the drumming of the great spotted woodpecker.
This morning I was joined on my woodpecker hunt by my six year old assistant as we ventured down Kissing Alley in the hope of hearing some drumming. There have been some reports in recent years of the much rarer lesser spotted woodpecker calling in the area but none that I have heard. My assistant was hoping to get a woodpecker sticker for her spot the bird book (check the link here if you should require details of this excellent junior education aid). As we walked down the narrow path in the dappled spring light we were serenaded by big voiced wrens from all directions and could hear cock pheasants calling as well as jackdaws and rooks but no woodpeckers.
Eventually the first drum beat was heard and my assistant perked up immediately. Whilst staring up at the upper branches of the numerous large oak trees we heard further drum beats and every movement became a potential woodpecker. The first ones were blue tits and great tits but then something caught our eye that was a bit more unusual in the form of a treecreeper. This little gem did its usual acrobatic routine casually wandering around, often upside down and stopped for a second, close enough for a quick photo.
Whilst not exactly smiling at the camera the crisp morning light picks out the fabulous patterns on the back of the treecreeper and those magic climbing claws.
Eventually the woodpecker was found and showed himself well enough for a sticker and carried out a few more solo drum sessions. The next bird to make a a reasonable show and earning another valuable sticker was the smallest bird of the day weighing in at 6 grammes or the same as a 10 pence coin. A goldcrest which was feeding in some bushes close to the path and gave a frenzied feeding routine which left me with many blurry shots of feathers and empty twigs however out of dozens I actually managed one that is worth showing.
Lots of twigs and a goldcrest showing off its gold crest.
Hethersett Hall Lake and the woods were also alive with a number of other less usual birds. The tops of the trees were full of small flocks of redwings which have been here all week often with fieldfares and they were joined by a buzzard which is one of several seen locally during the day. The redwings and fieldfares are just waiting for their unseen cue to fly back north to their breeding grounds but on the lake itself was a pair of birds which may be considering breeding as they looked very settled, a pair of gadwall. Also heard calling in the undergrowth was a little grebe so possibly another less common breeding bird for the village.