Saturday, 22 April 2017


Five years ago we bought three Koi carp fingerlings and four tiny Golden Orfe for our small garden pond. Every winter I fear for their survival, as the die-back of the water weeds and marginal plants expose them to predation. And indeed: last year one of the Carp was stabbed by a Grey Heron. Amazingly, the remaining two of each species reappeared today: the carp must weigh around a pound at least: they're about a foot long now!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Cuckoo on the Heath!

As I was shaving this morning (with the bathroom window open!) I heard the unmistakeable sound of a Cuckoo calling close by. Still covered in foam, I walked through to the backdoor: from here it seemed that the bird was quite close, possibly on the phone wires just beyond the hedge that separates our garden from the fields beyond: so it proved!

A couple of weeks ago Sue (our birder friend from two doors down!) e-mailed to say she'd heard a Cuckoo: I casually dismissed this as a Collared Dove. It's been three or four years since I last heard a Cuckoo on the Heath: even so, perhaps I was a little hasty - if so, a thousand apologies, Sue!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

North Coast: Dartfords, Ouzels and winter geese!

Norman, Brian and I made an earlyish start and were at a well-known heath on the North Coast by around eight o'clock. Despite the frost still on the ground, it was a warm day and the Woodlarks and Dartfords sang and flew around, although never near enough for photography in the heat haze! A Buzzard and Rook put on an aerial show, at the end of which the Buzzard emerged triumphant. Other birds included five distant Ring Ouzels, lots of Linnets and a few Stonechats.

After coffee at Cley we carried on to Burnham Overy Staithe, from where we walked out to Gun Hill. At least five more Ring Ouzels shimmered in the heat haze, while Sedge Warblers and Wheatears performed obligingly. Still lots of Brents and Pinkfeet: I imagine many of the former will over-Summer out in the Wash.

And so home to cut the lawn!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Iberian Chiffchaff at Strumpshaw

I met the two Brians and Adrian at the Fen this morning: the walk around and forty minute stake out from Fen Hide were very unproductive, probably because of the penetrating cold northerly wind: a few Marsh Harriers, Cetti's and the expected warblers were just about it. However, there was one highlight: as I  walked from reception to the junction of the three paths I heard what I am absolutely certain was an Iberian Chiffchaff calling. I'm familiar with the species and instantly recognised the strange mix of Chiffchaff and Wood Warbler notes. I spent ten minutes listening, but only managed glimpses. So: ears open!

More Buzzard harrassment!

As I was typing up yesterday's blog entry about Linda's and my visit to Hickling, our regular pale Buzzard passed over the garden, again being mobbed by a variety of birds. These included the usual Rooks, but more notably a Pied Wagtail and a Kestrel!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Hickling NWT: Bittern, Cranes and Common Terns

Having enjoyed the waders near Norwich (see below!) Linda and I carried on to Hickling NWT Reserve to see if we could catch up with a few more Broadland specialities.

We arrived before the centre was open, so had the reserve to ourselves for an hour. Little Egrets were everywhere, as were Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers, while the Broad itself had several Common Terns fishing close to the northern shore. From the delightfully quaint observation hide we added Sedge Warbler to the daylist before carrying on to Bittern Hide. Even before we sat down we could hear a booming male: within minutes he'd appeared distantly in front of the reedbed at our eleven o'clock. He was on show for perhaps an hour: at times a second male could be heard booming further into the reeds.

Twice a group of eight Common Cranes flew around Stubb's Mill and over towards Horsey: frustratingly they never came close, but it's always good to see these elegant birds, even distantly.


Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpipers

As Linda and I were driving into Norwich yesterday we noticed some small birds among the gull flock on a shallow pool east of Norwich. A nod's as good as a wink, so we were up and out by 7,00am today and within ten minutes were enjoying good views of three Little Ringed Plovers and two Green Sandpipers.

The birds were surprisingly confiding: we stood motionless on the path and all five approached within a hundred yards - occasionally closer. A family group of Egyptian Geese were also present: good to see the development of this bit of green belt has (in the short term, at least) provided habitat for some interesting wildlife.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Buzzard brings the rain!

Just before the promised heavy showers arrived on the Heath, a beautifully-marked Common Buzzard spent ten minutes stooging about over the garden. Every now and then a small passerine would climb up to mob it: Greenfinches, Chaffinches and a Blackbird all took turns! When a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls joined in, however, the Buzzard decided discretion was the better part of valour and swooped off southwards.