A flying cat

Today I had a couple of hours at Titchwell reserve and managed to see three bearded tits quite well, although I didn’t manage a decent photo. I did manage good photos of the new bird of the day though, which I first heard as two of them flew over me calling. If you ever hear a sound something like a rather sad and plaintive cat – a slightly pathetic meow – and then an animal flies overhead, you have not actually seen a flying cat…..no – it’s a Mediterranean gull! These gulls are similar to black-headed gulls but actually do have a black head in summer (a more extensive one than that on black-headed gulls, whose heads are actually – confusingly – chocolate brown* rather than black!). The Mediterranean gull also has a more solid bill which is bright red. It was good to see several of these gulls well today – a species that has started colonising the UK in recent years.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls at Titchwell today, with some black-headed gulls for comparison

Brenda writes: “Yesterday I travelled north to Aberdeenshire on the train. Curious to know how fast we were travelling I put on my phone sat nav app a couple of times. The top speed it registered as it showed me travelling along a railway line was 120 miles per hour. Today I was travelling rather more slowly on “Shanks’s pony”. I walked the three and a half miles into Insch. Our glen is glacial, a U-shaped valley flattened and widened by a glacier. Today the landscape was a patchwork of ploughed fields broken up with clumps of trees and with splashes of golden yellow gorse.

The daffodils are also in full bloom here. It was lovely also to see coltsfoot on verges and by field gates with its characteristic drooping heads.


Quite soon after leaving home I saw a buzzard being mobbed by two jackdaws and had three further sightings of this magnificent bird. When I got to Insch I explored a little nature reserve on the edge of the village near the station – Wantonwells Paths. I met and had a conversation with local artist Sam, who said the farmer wanted to create a nature reserve and has transformed some fields into what is becoming a lovely oasis. A government grant has enabled them to do proper footpaths and signage.

Having done my grocery shop I headed for home. I love doing a walk in both directions as you always notice something new, and see the landscape from a different angle. I got a nice little list of small birds today – chiffchaff, chaffinch, blue tit, coal tit, long-tailed tit, dunnock, treecreeper, robin, sky lark, pied wagtail, yellowhammer and goldfinch, along with my first song thrush of the year. I also had two new species of flower today. In Premnay there was lots of alpine squill growing on the banks.

alpine squill

And I finally bit the bullet with identifying one of those pesky white things which is everywhere at the moment – hairy bittercress.

Steve reported that there were no moths in the trap today. It’s just too cold for them! However up here in the warm afternoon sunshine I saw a red admiral butterfly sunning itself on a clump of grass!

PS. There was one more flower to add from Sunday’s walk at Snettisham. Every year I puzzle over a tiny forget-me-not type flower and have to go back to the field guide. It’s early forget-me-not.”

early forget-me-not at Snettisham on Sunday

New species for April 11th:
Birds: mediterranean gull
Flowers: early forget-me-not, alpine squill, hairy bittercress

*chocolate brown is how I was always told how to describe the colour, but with the proliferation of cocoa-based confectionary currently available it becomes tricky! Think a standard milk chocolate colour.