It’s the final countdown

As you most probably already know, the term “ear worm” is used to describe a snippet of music that one cannot get out of one’s head. I get these quite a lot, most usually pieces I’ve just played or conducted, but often seemingly random bits from music I had almost forgotten about. Many things can set off an ear worm, but it is almost certainly true that as soon as you saw the title of this blog you had a very specific piece of music from 1986 in your head! It may now be there for minutes, hours or perhaps even days. Sorry!!

But – at least in terms of my aim to see 200 bird species – we really are on the final countdown as today I reached 190 species. I decided to head back to Thornham again in the early evening and I’m really glad I did. It was one of those magical times when I really appreciate being out in the natural world: There was some sunshine and it wasn’t too windy. There were absolutely no birders about and in fact I only saw about five people in over an hour. Perfect! And the birds…brilliant: First off I saw the drake garganey again and heard it calling – a quiet call rather like running your finger over the teeth of a comb. This was closely followed by an encounter with a little egret showing it’s breeding plumes and yellow feet.

A little egret with some mallard chicks

Then on the seaward side of the sea wall there were several summer plumage grey plovers feeding on the mud.

grey plover

Overhead I was seeing swallows and house martins and then a small group of swifts. Trying to get photographs of any of these fast moving birds was almost impossible, but I did manage a reasonable shot of a swift.

common swift

There were plenty more birds on the flooded field south of the sea wall: redshanks galore, lapwings with chicks, hunting marsh harriers (being mobbed by lapwings), coots, moorhens, mallards, gadwall and shelduck swimming around, and a couple of pied wagtails plus Canada, Brent and greylag geese, some with goslings. In surveying the flooded area I also managed to find three wood sandpipers this time.

I thought I would add more photos of wood sandpipers as the previous one was from 2011 but these were taken today!

And then I noticed a few smaller waders. One was a lovely summer plumage dunlin, and nearby was a little ringed plover with it’s splendid yellow eye. But the best find – and species number 190 for 2023 – was a little stint with it’s beautiful scalloped rusty plumage: one of our tiniest waders.

little stint

Brenda writes: “There were two new moths in the moth trap today along with seven other species we’ve already noted. The rivulet is a small member of the carpet family and has a lovely wavy white band across the wings, perhaps looking like a winding stream – hence the name.


The treble-bar has…well…three bars, and is very handsome!


I had to drive to Dereham today to register mum’s death. The verges are very lush now so it was a wonderful drive, and nice to see white campion in flower, always a few weeks later then red. The council have now cut back the verges at junctions or it would be impossible to see. I had a brief walk around the parish church, St Nicholas. There is a link here with one of my churches, St Withburga, Holkham. Withburga spent part of her childhood in the place which is now called Holkham and went on to found a nunnery at Dereham. In Dereham churchyard is a well called Withburga’s well.

St Withburga’s Well in Dereham churchyard

Her sister Etheldreda founded the religious house at Ely part of which is now Ely cathedral.”

New species for May 15th:
Birds: little stint
Moths: treble-bar, rivulet
Flowers: white campion