Time for a look back at the highlights of 2019 locally and to look forward to something new. As WordPress users will be aware blogging for free has its limits and this site is close to those limits after a few years, so sighting updates from hereafter will appear on our sister site Wild Hethersett as well as the usual twitter feed. This site will be kept up to date, especially the ever popular bird walks and most who join us on the new site will notice very little change but in keeping with the new site the posts will often cover a slightly wider variety of nature than has been the case with this unashamed avian celebration.
So as is typical and fitting this is a look back at the village birds of 2019 and I will start with the above bird who is likely to star again in 2020. The reedbunting (1), the linnet (2) and yellow hammer (3) have all done well this year and there are promising signs that good farming practices including winter seed planting are making a difference to these three stars. Anyone who has watched these wheeling about on Cedar grange this year will have also had the opportunity to watch alongside them our more typical fare of Gold finch (4) greenfinch (5) Chaffinch (6) dunnock (7) blue tit (8) coal tit (9) great tit and long-tailed tit (10).
The hedgerows have also been home to a variety of birds alongside the fields including the wren (11), robin (12), blackbird (13) song thrush (14) and mistle thrush (15). The latter two are notable at this time of year alongside the redwing (16) and fieldfare’s (17). The spring saw the hedgerows full too, of the usual summer visitors including the now regularly breeding lesser whitethroat (18) his commoner cousins the whitethroat (19) chiffchaff (20) and blackcap (21). Worryingly this is the third year in a row during which the lilting tune willow warbler has been absent from the village treetops.
Off course with all the songbirds there will be a few predators about which have included this year kestrel (22) sparrowhawk (23) buzzard (24) and red kite (25) the latter is not much of a bird threat but one of the most impressive. Feeding on the fields and potential food for sparrow hawks have been loads of the villages most common sight wood pigeon (26) as well as their cousins stock doves (27) and collared doves (28). If I look back at garden memories from the year the most colourful are bullfinch (29) and great spotted woodpecker as well arguably the villages smallest resident the goldcrest (30).
Slightly smaller than the woodpecker but arguably as colourful the nuthatch (31) is always a regular as is the less common and colourful treecreeper (31). More colour from the crows including jay (32) and magpie (33) as well as their more sombre cousins the rook (34) carrion crow (35) and jackdaw (36). Plenty of the usual flyover activity with black headed gull (37) common gull (38) herring gull (39) and lesser black-backed gull (40). There were some other fly over fishermen including grey heron (41) and the less common kingfisher (42) and for the first time of counting a new entry with a little egret (43).
Of course the real masters of the sky turned up in the summer with Swifts (44) house martins (45) and swallow (46) with the latter noticeable by their general absence and lower numbers year on year. Other more unusual flyovers have included Egyptian geese (47) mute swan (48) and mallards (49) . Greylag (50) and barnacle geese (51) have joined their watery friends and out on the ponds and wet village fringes moorhen (52) and coot (53) have both been present with little grebe (54) and gadwall (55) as usual at the Hall. No nocturnal flyovers of wigeon this year but did manage to hear some teal (56) last week.
Other night time birds of course include the local owl population include the vocal tawny owls (57) and little owls (58) and briefly this year some barn owl (59) calling but unfortunately no breeding barn owls for the second year running. Arguably the star bird in terms of unexpected was a daytime flyer was a rare local the Short eared owl (60). So who have I missed from the list pheasants at (61) have been frequenting the local fields but I have missed their cousins the partridges which have been close by in terms of red-legged and grey but missed by me. An other missed are the regular Canada geese which goes to show I haven’t been checking the local lakes as often as I have in the past drawn away by my more exciting WEBS areas. A large skein of pink footed geese was also missed by myself over the village in the last week or so.
The ever present and nearly over looked starling (62) comes in almost last alongside the green woodpecker (63) and easily overlooked feral pigeon (64). Skylark (65) was of course one of my favourite local songsters but common tern (66) and oystercatcher (67) both came to notice due to their vocal skills Having checked back on previous counts since the site started in 2015 this isn’t a bad result and local birding has significantly improved my environmental credentials with 99% of my year list of 105 being from within 7 miles of home. However you choose to watch yours in 2020 Happy New Year.