Day 16 of #30DaysWild meant a four kilometer walk as I completed one of my Late Breeding Bird Surveys. The walk through the local parish of Wicklewood starts on the appropriately named Milestone lane and it is incredibly handy if you need to know how far away you are from London.
Old Fashioned Sat Nav
From a birding perspective it was a mixed start. Just before the count proper started there is a small housemartin colony which appeared deserted and down to one nest not promising for this dissapearing species. The first stretch of the count was buzzing with birds including 40 house sparrows flitting about and chirping in the morning sun. They were accompanied by chaffinch, mallard and moorhen along with collared doves and the ever present wood pigeons.
House sparrow one of the morning success stories
The walk continued with more sparrows and a single swallow hawking for insects perhaps looking for his mates the house martins? The next part of the walk follows huge fields with varied crops and views that go on for miles. There were a few pied wagtails and linnets and every where was the sound of singing skylarks.
The sweeping curves of Milestone lane in the early summer morning sunshine
I had opted to take a camera rather than my usually telescope on the walk as in previous years I have missed out on some perfect picture opportunities particularly of Roe deer who are always present. The first one I found was an unfortunate victim of a road traffic accident. Fortunately just a little further along and I caught a glimpse of another much more lively one. A little distant compared with previous years but close enough so you can tell what it is in the photo.
Healthy Roe Deer
As I continued walking I totted up the pheasants the yellow hammers and continued trying to nail down the number of skylarks accurately with no double counting. The local farmland also yielded up black caps and stockdoves. What intrigued me next was a lot of bees apparently feeding on the underside of leaves in the hedgerow. As one of my aims during this wild month was to diversify I thought I would grab some closeups and ID them later. Id was relatively straightforward thanks to the Bumblebee conservation trust website (available here) Grabbing a flight shot of these nimble little fellows was more tricky.
A tree bumblebee which I have seen around the village an a relatively recent immigrant arriving in the UK in 2001 and now widespread. This one is hoovering up something sweet.
As I continued walking I saw the next stalwart of this particular walk which was a pair of bullfinches which are ever present here. Wren, robin and great-tit all made themselves know vocally along with a couple of blackcaps. My last couple of visits to the area have picked up a new voice in the form of a sedge warbler but he wasn’t singing this morning but was replaced by another rare visitor to Hethersett a reed bunting.
Male reed-bunting new on my survey area
The reedbunting stayed stubbornly out of sight but another tiny fellow caught my eye on the walk back and once again I thought I would snap a quick photo and see if one of my twitter friends could provide an identification.
This fluffy fellow is a yellow tail moth caterpillar and is covered in irritating hairs and best not handled which fortunately I didn’t.
On my return route I usually pick up the odd bird species I missed but today I had collected them all so made do with a photo of the field margins instead of any of the birds.
Day 17 was a lot less wild but I still took time out to watch the local rooks flying into roost and listened to the sound of swifts screaming high overhead collecting insects for their young.