Our smallest owl

Today my car was booked for a service in King’s Lynn and so I knew I would be spending most of the afternoon at the garage, where I tend to use the time to answer and write emails. So I left a little early and grabbed an hour at Titchwell on the way.

The weather was fairly mild and calm and there were large numbers of Brent geese at Titchwell, as there had been a couple of days ago. The numbers of golden plover have dropped from several hundred to just a handful, but there were still plenty of lapwing about. I didn’t have much time to hang around, but was very pleased to see a water rail in the ditch next to the main path both on the way out and the way back. For a bird that in many years I have failed to see, water rail is fast becoming my bird of 2023!

a water rail at Titchwell – I love the sheer size of the feet!

I didn’t get away from the garage until nearly 5pm, and almost decided not to visit anywhere else, but since there was still an hour or so of daylight I drove back to Flitcham, to the single hide I visited last Friday (https://con-brio.com/hiding-in-the-dark/) in search, once again, of little owls. As dusk fell there were hares and pheasant in the fields, long-tailed tits calling, and geese flying over. I could see no movement in the little owl tree. A tawny owl called a few times. And then I thought I saw movement in the tree. I focussed the telescope and there was a cunningly camouflaged little owl. It preened a little, and then hopped onto a slightly lower branch, to be joined a minute or so later by a second owl. I watched them for about ten minutes until the light became too low to really see them. Wonderful birds!

Brenda writes: “We had two new moths in the trap this morning. I’m familiar with both but brought them in anyway because I wanted to show them to the folk attending a Lent study group at the house. My Quaker friend David was a little disappointed that the common quaker moth wasn’t more exciting. I think it’s a beautiful moth which is reasonably variable and flies from March to May. It feeds on sallow catkins and blackthorn flowers so it’s bang on time!

common quaker

The  other moth was also topical, a Hebrew character. This is one of many moths given a quirky name because the marks on its wing resemble a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Fanciful name or no, it is a very pretty moth and flies from March to early June. One of the things I quickly learned as a novice is that once you think you know what a moth is, look it up to see which months it flies in. There’s a bit of wiggle room at either end but if it’s miles off then you’ll have to look again. It can be useful because it narrows down the options. And if all else fails I can always send a picture to James and say, ‘What’s this?’ He almost always knows!”

Hebrew character

New species for March 3rd:
Birds: little owl
Moths: common quaker, Hebrew character

Birds = 135
Moths = 9
Wildflowers = 23