Introductions and colonisations

Four new birds today – all very different!

I walked from Holkham west through the pines as far as the start of the Burnham Overy sand dunes. There are some good views over the Holkham fresh marsh where there were hundreds of the wintering pink-footed geese, lapwings, curlew, lots of wigeon and teal, and more. I saw over 30 species on the walk, including red kite, marsh harrier and kestrel.

curlew on Holkham freshmarsh

In one of the fields near to where I had parked was a pied wagtail: To be honest I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to see one! They’re often in our back garden. But there it is – my first of 2023 was today.

pied wagtail (photo taken 2018)

In complete contrast to a small, elegant and tail-wagging passerine I caught up with several Egyptian geese today: There are various self-sustaining populations in the UK, derived from escapes from wildfowl collections initially. There are always several around the Holkham estate. They can’t really be described as elegant! I rather like them myself, but they have a strident call and an odd look!

Egyptian geese at Holkham (photo taken 2019)

For my third new species for today we perhaps return to elegant, but maybe in a slightly gangly way – with a great egret. To further contrast these three species: Pied wagtails will have been around in the UK for a long time, but both Egyptian geese and great egrets are much more recent, with the geese probably first introduced into the UK in the late 17th century. Moving nearer to today it was rare to see a great egret in this country in the 20th century. The very first record was of one shot in Yorkshire in 1826, but they only began to breed here in 2012, and have since grown in numbers quite rapidly.

great egret (photo taken 2015)

Indeed over the course of the last 20 years many large wading birds most usually associated with southern Europe have started to colonise the UK; I suspect mainly because of climate change: These include little egret, cattle egret, great egret and glossy ibis. As with all wildlife populations change is normal; but sometimes it does seem very rapid.

And what about the fourth new species: Tiny is perhaps the best word to describe a goldcrest – tiny but beautiful! There were several in the trees along my walk – too difficult to photograph today, but maybe I’ll get a good photo later in the year….

New species for January 14th:
Birds: pied wagtail, great egret, Egyptian goose, goldcrest

Birds = 84
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 10