On home ground

Today was a work day but we managed a walk at the pools just east of Wells-next-the-Sea just before sunset, which – as we expected – gained us several bird species common in this area; though there are plenty more to be seen yet!

Brenda found daisies in flower near our house and a lone dandelion in a sheltered spot near the coast path, plus more common gorse and yarrow – so she’s hit the dizzying heights of 4 species! She did turn the moth light on last night, but none deigned to show up :-)

dandelion

Brenda writes: “Three more species of flower today. As I left home this morning I saw daisies adorning the grass verges and later on a walk a solitary dandelion. Both species are among those that will flower during warmer winter weather. More unexpected was to see yarrow. Yarrow continues to be visible late into the autumn with its straight stalk topped by a tight floret of tiny white flowers. The frost before Christmas should have brought their season to an end but in Burnham Sutton churchyard I found they had survived. Perhaps the medieval church, churchyard walls and headstones provided just enough shelter. I will watch these particular flowers with interest.”

Back to birds – geese to be specific. My favourite goose has to be red-breasted, which I saw for the first time in 2022. I probably won’t see one this year, but a close second for me is Brent goose, and there are plenty of those in north Norfolk.

Saw my first waders of the year on the walk – redshank, curlew and black-tailed godwit.

redshank (photo taken in 2005)

Further east along the coast path from where we were today was a group of about 30 birdwatchers looking out for both hen and pallid harrier: I’ll maybe try to see the pallid harrier that’s around, but I have a bit of an aversion to large groups of birders. I’ll go to try to see a rarity sometimes, but I like peace and quiet on my walks and although most birders are lovely, considerate people I still prefer to be on my own or with Brenda.

My aversion to twitching does, of course, cost me ticks on my bird list….but no matter: As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it’s just as great to see something completely unexpected, or one of your favourite common species, as it is to see a rarity with 50 other people – perhaps better! Call me a grumpy old man (go on – do!).

Lovely to see a large flock of maybe 200 lapwings today: They have been in steep decline but do now seem to be making a bit of a comeback. We also saw a Chinese water deer – something a haven’t consciously identified in the past. They’re actually quite distinctive and reading up on them on https://deeraware.com was interesting:

“Chinese Water Deer are a non-native species introduced from Chinese populations along the Yangtze River. They are said to be the most primitive living member of the Cervidae family, in part because the buck carries large canine teeth or tusks and has no antlers, characteristics that other deer have evolved beyond.”

“Chinese water deer are the least common of the UK wild deer species, they are a territorial species and their distribution is largely limited to the Midlands and East Anglia. They have been in the country for longer than muntjac and have a potentially higher birth rate (usually twins or triplets) but although they are increasing in range, they are doing so far more slowly than muntjac.”

“Preferred habitats are woodlands next to grazing areas and more open and wet areas such as reed beds, boggy areas and river edges. They adapt readily to open areas of grassland such as agricultural fields and parks, and are often be seen out in daylight.”

Apparently the UK population of Chinese water deer represents about 10% of the world population, and they’re in decline in their native habitats, so I’m really pleased to have seen one today!

the saltmarsh east of Wells


New species for January 4th:
Birds: curlew, little egret, black-tailed godwit, lesser black-backed gull, marsh harrier, lapwing, redshank, shelduck, shoveler, brent goose
Flowers: dandelion, daisy, yarrow

TOTALS TO DATE:
Birds = 48
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 4