Showing posts from April, 2021

Rain Stopped Play: Ranworth guided walk, 30 April 2021

Reports about Honeyguide guided walks are partly a souvenir for those there, plus we hope the usual account of lovely wildlife sightings to encourage others to wish they were there. But not today, I think. Using the long-range weather forecast to help choose dates is better than not looking at the forecast, and perhaps it’s best to appreciate how often it’s right. We started well, it has to be said. Chilly, certainly, this exceptionally cold April, and when the sun came out on a couple of brief occasions, very pleasant. The group walked from the NWT’s car park along the quiet road alongside the Bure National Nature Reserve. On a meadow on the higher land to our right there were four hares. To our left, muddy areas among rushes and reeds showed the impact of some serious flooding last winter, creating good habitat for displaying lapwings. A pair of Egyptian geese emerged from tall rushes with chicks that were so patterned and fluffy it was tricky to tell where one stopped and the

Thorpe Marshes guided walk, 26 April 2021

This was an extra guided walk to mark my birthday, and what better way to spend the morning than with a group of Honeyguiders on my local patch? A lazy option for me, as NWT’s Thorpe Marshes nature reserve is within easy walking distance, though still only occasionally visited by most of today’s group. A whitethroat on a dead branch in the field by Whitlingham Lane, the approach to the reserve, was a good start. It was one of the chillier days this cold and dry April, but that didn’t stop the activity approaching the peak time for bird song. Right by the railway bridge that is the reserve’s entrance was a willow warbler and a Cetti’s warbler that was clearly on view: so often they are noisy yet hidden. A sedge warbler sang noisily from a buddleia that hadn’t been pollarded. We spent a little time at the first corner looking at the egg-laying scars of willow emerald damselflies on thin willow branches over the open water. Then a little farther along the permissive path through the u

Foxley Wood guided walk, 23 April 2021

It was a perfect spring day at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Foxley Wood nature reserve, timed to enjoy spring woodland flowers at around their best. Even around the car park we found lots of common dog violets. A dog’s mercury we looked at had distortion and swelling on a leaf, likely to be caused by a rust fungus Melampsora populnea . Foxley Wood in the sunshine. Just around the corner, a willow warbler sang in full view. It’s an ideal time to see a willow warbler: freshly arrived, keen to sing to establish territory and easy to see before leaves  emerge on trees. Other warblers singing this morning were chiffchaffs and blackcaps. It wasn’t a day for seeing a lot of birds though we did have good views of two marsh tits and heard mistle thrush. Common dog violets.   Wood sorrel. Mostly this was a morning for enjoying glorious weather and spring flowers. Water avens was beginning to bloom in damp patches on the wide rides. Wood anemones and wood sorrel were expected but lovely anyway. B

Burnham Norton and Holkham NNR guided walk, 16 April 2021

Sunshine with a cool northerly breeze greeted this week’s Honeyguide group, with Rob Lucking, around the grazing marshes of Burnham Norton at the western end of Holkham National Nature Reserve (NNR). Grazing marshes at Burnham Norton. A great white egret was out on the marshes, though it was displaying waders that stole the show. Calling redshanks rose and twisted on angled wings; lapwings tumbled and others could be picked out on the ground sitting on nests. There were oystercatchers, too, and a few curlews. Paul Eele, warden of the NNR and a former RSPB colleague for Rob and me, came past and paused for a chat. He confirmed that the water channels on the grazing marsh had been enhanced by a rotary digger, here in the natural-looking shapes of  creeks of the saltmarsh that it once was, centuries ago. In what is becoming a very dry April, Paul also told us that this old grazing marsh was retaining its water much better than marshes that are more recent reversions from arable to gra

Potter Heigham guided walk, 8 April 2021

No rain, no hail, no snow: after recent ‘spring’ weather, that was a result on today’s guided walk at Potter Heigham marshes in the Norfolk Broads. It was far from warm and the wind was pretty brisk, it has to be admitted. The gardens of the chalets by the River Thurne were under water, but compared with the recent flooding in the River Yare that was minor and no problem on our route.  Once we reached the newly created reedbeds and lagoons there were plenty of birds to see. Greylag and Canada geese were expected but a single pink-footed goose was not. Perhaps it was a late stayer, one of the thousands that winter in the Broads. Maybe it was injured but, if so, there was no obvious sign of that. Pink-footed goose, with greylags either side. Lapwings displayed and oystercatchers called though they were overshadowed by the amazing number of avocets, far from their usual coastal lagoons. There were 60 in a tight flock and another 15 or 20 not far from the main group. A single black-tailed

Wells guided walk, 1 April 2021

It may have been April Fool’s Day but no-one was fooled by the sudden drop in temperature after the late March heatwave. Rob Lucking met us in Wells-next-the-Sea and we walked to where a stiff northerly breeze was coming over the sea as we headed along East Quay. The nearest saltmarshes were covered by a high tide; there were brent geese but few waders. Crab pots with house sparrows on the quay. Alexanders was dominant along parts if the sea wall, as on much of the coast, though the plant we looked at closely was by the crab pots with house sparrows. The reason was to look at galls, like blisters on its leaves: often galls are from insects, but these are created by a rust fungus Puccinia smyrnii . It was quite a relief to drop down out of the wind with some shelter from the sea wall as we reached North Point wetlands. Rob explained how this was arable land that the farm found difficult to crop and, with Natural England’s support, created the series of lagoons there now. Two marsh har