Early rarities

January has arrived and once again even the humblest local bird becomes the first of its kind to grace the ‘year list’ and which with my garden list full of common delights plus an additional surprise mallard I set off for a walk out to Hethersett Hall with its parkland and lake acting as magnets for some scarcer locals. On the lake were moorhen, a pair of gadwall which appear now to be a settled pair and two little pairs of little grebes, my highest count of these locally and settled breeding bird.


Now increasing in numbers locally Little Grebe : mike good1 Flickr via Compfight cc

Back in the village I got a chance to check out a local rarity after Anne Edwards had managed to share a couple of photos of a tree sparrow the first recorded locally and now happily settled in the Birds of Hethersett. The tree sparrow was obligingly located with a flock of house sparrows opposite the Queens Head Pub. I didn’t manage to get a photo as he or she (both tree sparrows look the same) was being chased around by the house sparrows and it will be interesting if this guest and any others settle given the intimidation.


Tree sparrow sporting distinctive chestnut cap and blackcheek patches

Today I took a chance to do an early January WEBS count at Marlingford fearing that the rest of the month might be a bit busy and not wishing to miss out on a monthly count. Having donned the essential wellies and warm coat I wandered through the woods to the main lake and was serenaded by both nuthatches and a drumming great spotted woodpecker all clearly thinking about the approaching spring. As I stopped briefly under some oak trees to watch a long tailed tit flock and was surprised when a woodcock which had obviously been close by decided to make a dash for it. At the lake the ducks were out in force and the teal in particular were going through some early mating displays which were fun to watch.


Drake teal warming up for his dance moves.

 Whilst I continued to count up the greylag geese the tufted ducks, wigeon, coots Egyptian geese and a single pochard I became aware someone else was watching. From the far side of the lake a male sparrowhawk was doing his own counting and whilst he didn’t disturb the wildfowl they did take exception to a low flying buzzard. Again whilst I had been counting just below me stealthly hunting in the reeds was another scare local and the first for me on a WEBS count a great white egret which had I been a little quicker would have made a nice photograph however I wasn’t and he flipped up across the lake to feed away from any camera opportunities.


The Great White Egret capture I could have had in front of snoozing wigeon  Photo Credit: Steve Balcombe Flickr via Compfight cc

The walk home included a large flock of linnets and greenfinch and saw the deployment of the trail cam so check back soon to see what turned up next. If you can’t wait then check out the current trail cam videos by clicking this link (CLICK HERE).


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