More local Wild June Highlights


A busy week since the last post has seen a range of wild moments around the village but to start with I took a brief trip off piste to a childhood haunt (pre playstation days so just sticks and stuff). Marston Marsh only a few miles from the village on the south side of Norwich is well worth a visit especially on a late summer evening.

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The wetland meadows, river and dykes offer plenty of wild attraction although my trip was brief and highlights were the scolding wrens and longtailed tit flock which followed a jay round a ivy clad tree as it searched for nestlings.

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Not a Marston bird but a Hethersett Jay prepared earlier.

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Sunset Marsh

Next on my wild week of highlights was a visit to the wild green heart of the village an oasis of undeveloped garden and meadow that house the local barn owl population. I was given access by the owner whose efforts and nest boxes have seen annual breeding success with three birds fledged last year. As we settled down to a two hour wait the calling of young owlets could be heard and we were surrounded by hunting pipistrelle bats. For a long time the only birds we saw were  late comers the blackbird and robin but just as it was getting too dark to see the male returned and treated us a ghostly fly past.

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Picture courtesy of S Parkin an evening shot of a RSPB Strumpshaw barn owl  off to feed young

There has been quite a bit of very local Springwatch style action and drama very close to home and acheck out of the window last week produced an unexpected offering of two collared dove eggs. Collared doves are as with most pigeons a bit rubbish at nests and whilst this is better than most if it rains any time soon they may have issues with Location, Location, Location.

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Collared Dove Eggs in gutter nest

I guess by the next post they will have possibly hatched or been washed away and I am not sure either how to intervene, or if I should, if the storm clouds gather.

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Mum oblivious to the perils of poor weather.

A couple of nights ago after the village saw flyover red kite, buzzard and common tern I took a late evening cycle round the West Hethersett Loop and wasn’t disappointed. As I got to the Great Melton reservoir common terns were fishing in the late dusk  and whilst trick I managed the following record shot of these elegant fishermen.

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Common Tern at Dusk

It is no surprise to see these migrant birds this year as they are successfully breeding in double figures at nearby lakes. The terns seemed to annoy a blackheaded gull who scolded them from an island of lilies but his calls were drowned out by fighting moorhens and a green woodpecker calling.  As my night started running out I was drawn to Beckhithe Meadow by the calls of little owls and of a buzzard which sat in the tops of one of the great oaks as the sunset turned deep red and bathed it in the same colour. Whilst I stood failing to see the owls which were clearly watching me I became aware of a rustling behind me and this time I was the watcher as a young fox discovered me a few feet away, considered his options and ran.

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Photo Credit: JensLPZ Flickr via Compfight cc

This afternoon I and my eight year old assistant carried out our first owl pellet dissection having collected a few from my barn owl experience earlier. We were both amazed as  three skulls and a  range of bones appeared from their furry package. Thanks to some expert assistance  we have identified the former meal as three field voles. The Barn Owl Trust Website (Click Here) is also very useful and worth a visit.

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Three blind voles identified from closeups of their dentistry.

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