Easily distinguished

I was conducting a concert in Ely Cathedral today but did manage to have a couple of hours at Wicken Fen between rehearsal and concert. This is a lovely reserve near Ely and warblers were in full song today: I saw sedge warbler, willow warbler, blackcap (males with their smart black caps and a female with a lovely chestnut brown one) and chiffchaff, and I heard reed warbler (still not seen for this year), Cetti’s warbler (a particularly loud and insistent one!), and two new warblers for 2023 – grasshopper and garden – neither of which will go on the list as I didn’t manage to see them.

A reed warbler; currently on my “heard but not seen” list for this year! (photo taken 2016)

However my most exciting and unexpected sighting of the day was a stoat that ran out onto the path in front of me, carrying some prey item. It disappeared into the undergrowth, and so I waited for a few minutes and then it suddenly reappeared, stood on its hind legs and looked straight at me for a couple of seconds and then sped off.

Any sightings of stoats or weasels always remind me of one of my Dad’s favourite sayings – probably known to lots of you already: “How do you tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel? Well a weasel is weasily distinguished and a stoat’s stoatally different.”

Brenda writes: “Today I had to drive into Norwich for a meeting. Although I recorded a very early clump of cow parsley over a month ago it is only now coming into full flower, its tall white fronds adorning the verges where alexanders is not in charge! Talking of alexanders, I had a conversation with someone who’d been told it will not grow beyond one mile inland. I decided to test the theory on the way home and can report that I saw a very full verge 30 miles inland on the north edge of Norwich, then nothing until the Fakenham bypass (10 miles inland). From what’s known as the ‘dry road’ there were individual clumps widely spaced until I got to Egmere (3.5 miles) where it became more or less continuous. So there you have it. Theory disproved!”

No new species for April 29th: