April 5th Whitlingham Broad
The end of March was very summer-like with what was like a mini heatwave. The start of April was the complete opposite as it became winter again with light snow and hail showers and strong chilly winds. A very strange time to look for spring migrants at Whitlingham Broad. I began the month on 90 species of bird on my Norwich year list, needing only 10 more for my 100th. Could anything be arriving in these wintery conditions, I wondered. However, within the first few minutes of scanning the broad, that I was in for quite a surprise. Flying over the broad in great numbers was a swarm of swallows, house and sand martins. Three species that recently travelled from the heat of Africa only to arrive into Arctic-like conditions. How alien must it feel to them?
My list grew to 93 already and after I turned from the view of the hirundine (that's the family swallows and martins are from) swarm, I made it 94. Amongst the swans, ducks and geese that hang around near the car park area was a male mandarin duck. I've never encountered this exotic bird here before despite hearing it regularly comes in to roost most days. Despite being non-native, I was delighted to add it to my list. A chilly walk around the broad later, we met up with another birdwatcher who pointed out my 95th bird out on the broad. Actually, it was two, as two kittiewakes floating on the broad's surface that appeared similar to that of the sea these birds were more accustomed to. I've never thought I'd find these gulls this close to Norwich. It left me with 5 more to go and the month had only just begun. Other highlights of this visit included a kingfisher, siskins, buzzards, great crested grebes and tufted ducks.
|Mandarin & Kittiewake (April 5th) and Spoonbill (April 11th)|
April 9th Thorpe Marshes
On the day that Prince Philip died, I was out at Thorpe Marshes wading through ankle-height flood water. That's right, it had flooded again. And though the floods weren't as bad as it was over winter, I still went home with some damp pair of boots. At least the weather was warmer, though it did end up drizzling with rain. On the plus side, I did hear my first willow warbler of the year, making it 96 species. I also heard sedge warblers, blackcaps, chiffchaffs and a water rail and saw a few swallows, 3 buzzards, a little gull, 2 courtship displaying great crested grebes, an oystercatcher, a heron, tufted ducks, teal and gadwall.
April 11th Cley
For the first time since December, I was finally out of Norwich. With lockdown restrictions easing, I was allowed to visit the coast without the fear of being handed a fine. Cley was technically still closed to the public and was a day away from actually doing so, but you could still could use the car park and walk to the beach. As Mum and I made our way to the beach via the East Bank, the weather suddenly became Arctic-like with icy winds blasting us, causing our faces to feel numb, followed by rain, then hail and then sleet with large snowflakes. We took refuge in the shelter at the opposite end of the East Bank feeling cold and wet. A short while later, it became bright, warm and cheerful again.
Bird-wise, we had a relatively close encounter with a spoonbill as well as seeing avocets, redshanks, dunlin, 2 ringed plovers, shelducks, rooks and a host of other birds that were already on my Norwich list. Because we were far from the city, these 7 mentioned birds can not go on my official list, but I will include them to an extension list (a side list in other words). So I'm technically on 103 birds seen or heard this year, but only the 96 city species count.
April 16th Thorpe Marshes
A week since my last visit to Thorpe, the floods had completely dried up (which made me feel foolish for wearing wellies this time). However, it was a fairly disappointing visit as there wasn't anything new to add other than a couple of sedge warblers, 2 kingfishers, an oystercatcher, 2 little egrets, tufted ducks, great crested grebes, buzzards and a lot of gulls.
April 19th Norwich and Mousehold Heath
My 4th dawn chorus walk of the year was highly interesting. I decided that my walk for April would be along the River Wensum, taking me through the city before heading north to Mousehold Heath. Basically a big circuit looping back to my flat. I arrived at New Mill Yard at 5:20am, listening to blackbirds, robins, wrens, blue tits and a possible redwing along the way. It was light enough to see when I got to the mill and I was greeted by the sound of a singing grey wagtail. It took a while to actually spot it sitting on the lower side of the river wall. I saw another one further along by Fye's Bridge as well as 2-3 kingfishers, a pair of Egyptian geese with a gosling, a cormorant and several lesser black-backed gulls.
After success along the river, I moved on uphill to Mousehold. Blackcaps and chiffchaffs added their voices to the chorus with the more regular common woodland birds, including drumming woodpeckers. Sadly, there were no willow warblers as I was hoping. On top of that, the majority of the gorse bushes looked rather brown and dead. A very sad sight that reminded me of bleached coral reefs due to global warming. There just haven't been enough rain to keep these bushes green and yellow. A slight downer to what was a great dawn chorus walk, especially while by the river.
|Common Tern & Little Gull (April 21st) and Crane (April 28th)|
|My Strumpshaw 45 tick sheet and Common Lizard|