Reds and greens

I had to head off to Hitchin today, home of Benslow Music, where I’ll be coaching on a course for violin and cello duos with my Bingham Quartet cellist colleague James Halsey (also our resident moth expert as mentioned in previous posts!). I had online meetings all morning but wanted to have a walk somewhere on my way to Benslow. However my choice became somewhat limited when I realised that I had forgotten to charge the car!

However I luckily remembered that Sculthorpe Moor, which I had visited in January, has a couple of chargers in their car park: Perfect as I could charge whilst having a walk! It was a lovely sunny day and so off I went to the edge of Fakenham where I had a super couple of hours. This reserve really is excellent, as I mentioned before (see January 19th), the perfect place to spend some time getting to know a variety of woodland species. They also have a new wetland hide overlooking water that was frozen on my last visit, but open today and sporting both little egret and great egret, plus a solitary lapwing. The tawny owls were still in residence and the variety of small woodland birds was great. To give you an idea of what one can see in just a short space of time at this time of year, my list for the visit was;

Blackbird, brambling, bullfinch, buzzard, carrion crow, dunnock, great egret, little egret, goldfinch, greenfinch, grey heron, jackdaw, jay, red kite, lapwing, magpie, mallard, nuthatch, tawny owl, pheasant, wood pigeon, robin, siskin, house sparrow, coal tit, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, marsh tit, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker.

It’s easy to forget just how colourful a male greenfinch can be!

Brenda also had a good afternoon out and about: “It was a day off today and I was determined to have a walk. The day started with frost, glorious sunshine and a chilly wind. I decided to have an afternoon walk and parked at Lady Anne’s Drive with the intention of walking west on the coast path. This is a wonderful habitat now, as Steve was saying. About four years ago I had a conversation with the Holkham estate’s head of conservation, Jake Fiennes (yes, he is Ralph Fiennes’ brother) and he said their objective was to bring nature to the visitors. He said the easiest thing was reverting the fields back to flood meadows – they dug out the brick drains put in to drain them and let them get on with it!

Of course they’ve given a helping hand in the years since, digging trenches to encourage pools to form and working on the boundary of the drive, and the aim of bringing nature to the visitors has certainly succeeded. Today, before I had even moved away from my car I’d seen wigeon (lots), lapwing (lots), shelduck, teal, shoveler and mallard, with a red kite overhead and a curlew poking around some molehills really close to me…and then a snipe flew in. In the holm oaks at The Lookout there were no firecrests today but there was a flock of 10 long-tailed tits – accompanied by one blue tit – which flew into the trees then came down onto the sandy track and were picking around taking absolutely no notice of me as I stood watching.

I had a lovely walk as far as the end of the woodland where it gives way to sand dunes. Walking back I witnessed a wonderful Norfolk sunset, starting with pale pink ripples which ripened to a deep salmon. As I got back to the car the moon was just above the horizon and had picked up the salmon colour. My phone camera wasn’t up to that! Note to self – get out that very good camera Steve bought me for Christmas in 2021 and learn how to use it! One new flower today, stinking helibore, which was growing by the path in sandy soil on the edge of the woodland. I think this one has recently come into flower and the red on the edge of the bell shaped flowers hasn’t developed yet – a tinge can just be seen on the right hand flower head. A beautiful plant, often grown in gardens.

stinking helibore

New species for February 6th:
Flowers: stinking helibore

Birds = 116
Moths = 3
Wildflowers = 15