Almost a century…

Another beautiful clear and cold day today and I decided it was time for a change of habitat!

Wanting a little bit of non-coastal woodland I decided to drive the 12 minutes or so to Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve, just outside Fakenham. It’s on our doorstep but I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I haven’t been there since some time in 2018. As it turned out this was definitely my loss!

Run by the Hawk and Owl Trust this site turns out to be an absolute gem: It’s being superbly managed and has changed a lot since I was last there – more boardwalks, more hides and a fenced off area which houses a pair of European beavers. Some of you might be aware of the positive impact beavers can have on biodiversity, the resilience of a habitat, and even on flood prevention. If you’re not do look them up: Amazing creatures!

a chaffinch and a marsh tit on a feeder at Sculthorpe Moor

Having gone with no particular expectations I ended up having a hugely enjoyable and productive couple of hours. Near the visitor centre is a carefully laid out area for bird feeders and this immediately got me off to a great start with coal, blue, great and long-tailed tits, plus – first new bird for the day – marsh tit. Also on the feeders were robin, dunnock, several bullfinches and – 2nd new bird – a handful of brambling. The 3rd new bird was a greenfinch also on the feeders.


Further along the boardwalk I had been told there was an owl nestbox inhabited by a pair of tawny owls, and although a little distant I was able to see one of the pair in view at the nestbox entrance. Then I heard – and then managed to see – a nuthatch, closely followed by a group of about 20 small birds in the trees above me: They were mostly blue and great tits, but there were also a few siskin and two or three common redpoll. Suddenly my new bird count for the day was at 6.

yes – that ball of feathers is a tawny owl!

I then saw a shy muntjac deer from one of the bridges over the small stream that runs through the reserve. I’d been told that one could see a kingfisher in this area, but I wasn’t really expecting to see one. However something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and there, about a hundred yards away on a branch jutting over the stream was a kingfisher! Not only did he stay on the perch for a couple of minutes, he then conveniently change perched and turned to face me – so I got the beautiful blues of his back in the sunlight and then the deep orangey hues of his breast. I then move off the bridge hoping he might fly down the stream – and he did…very quickly of course, and landed on another perch the same distance from me in the opposite direction. What superb birds – and what a wonderful afternoon of wildlife.

I can see this becoming a regular venue for visits now, and I look forward to following the wildlife through the seasons: I bought a joint annual membership for Brenda and I and I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you live nearby or are visiting the area.

And Brenda writes: “I thought I had another flower for my list today as I walked up into Wells, a clump of rosemary, which has beautiful lilac flowers in the winter months. However this herb is a shrub originally from the Mediterranean and if we’re going to be strict I’m only going to list species that are in my field guide. So rosemary and winter jasmine, both in flower at the moment, cannot be counted. So I’m still on 11 but there’s plenty of time. As for moths, no self-respecting insect would be out in this weather. I’m not even getting leaves in the moth trap at the moment!”

New species for January 19th:
Birds: tawny owl, kingfisher, marsh tit, nuthatch, brambling, greenfinch, common redpoll

Birds = 99
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 11