Wednesday, 25 April 2012


This has been the longest hiatus in writing since this marsh tit chipped its tiny egg at the end of last year. So long, in fact, that you might even call it a trial separation. I’ve been busy, marshtitters: busy hands and busy head. And it’s been raining. And raining.

However, I hate a hiatus so here’s a quick round-up of recent events chez marsh tit:

1)      Along the river the scritchity-scratchity song of a whitethroat is now to be heard and sedge warblers are back in force.

2)      My mother and I wandered through the rain in NWT Thursford Wood, which is quite my favourite Norfolk bluebell wood. The bluebells hadn’t quite happened but wood anemones, moschatel and wood sorrel were braving the dismal weather and many other ancient woodland plants – sanicle, pignut, wood speedwell, red campion, herb Bennett – were in leaf and bud and promising to look lovely very soon. Over the Andersons’ grave, which, according to their wishes on leaving the wood to NWT, is gently crumbling to nothing, a dense-flowered lavender-blue Rhododendron is in bloom. I know I’m not supposed to like non-natives but it’s part of the history of human custody of this long-managed landscape, it looks magnificent, and the Andersons were friends of my great-grandparents who farmed at Jex Farm in Little Snoring.

3)      A reed warbler was singing at Cley on Sunday but I couldn’t see him so he doesn’t count. I shall have to go back. I can probably cope with that.

4)      On Tuesday I led a bioblitz for NWT in Thetford. It rained but hardy souls still turned out to listen to clattering chaffinches and identify weeds poking through the tarmac and out of the walls of the mill.

5)      On my way to Thetford I stopped at Lynford. From an old hedge of hornbeams, in the rain, naturally, came a sharp tik tik: too sharp for a robin by far. Hello, I thought to myself (I may even have said it aloud as I spend far too much time alone), here be hawfinches. Despite craning my neck and bobbing up and down like a drug-crazed meerkat (Compare The… get it?) I saw no hawfinch. So I trundled along to a damp stream clothed in alders. A treecreeper trilled, a nuthatch tip-tip-tip-ped and a garden warbler (unseen, much like the reed warbler at Cley on Sunday) launched into his stony free-association jumble of a song. On the way back to the car park (through the rain) I heard again the sharp tik from the hornbeams. Again I craned, again I bobbed. A solid shape sprang from the top of the hedge, with a Hulk-Hoganesque neck and a strong flash of white through the wing like an eyebrow raised in surprise. Hawfinch.

6)      Bird cherry was in flower by the stream at Lynford and wild cherry all along the road from here to Thetford. Just lovely.

7)      This morning I have a cold and the sky is still grey. But there are house sparrows in the eaves, peregrine chicks are hatching all over the country, and swifts are all over Twitter. Soon they’ll be back over the pond too.

8)      As I write a swallow calls outside. Hello swallow.

One of the things I like best about animals in the wild is that they're always off on some errand. They have appointments to keep. It's only we humans who wonder what we're here for.

Diane Ackerman
The Moon by Whale Light

New since last we spoke


Sylvia communis
Coccothraustes coccothraustes

2012 Totals
Mammals: 55
Birds: 450
Reptiles: 12
Amphibians: 6
Fish: 3

1 comment:

  1. I currently have no Cuckoo, no Whitethroat, no Sedge Warbler, and no Reed Warbler and like you, there has been too much rain in my part of the UK. Migration is slow this year but had I made more effort then maybe things would not seem to be the way I perceive them.

    All the best and let us hope a warm up is in the offing. Now off to look up those ancient woodland flowers you have mentioned.

    Tony Powell