Monday 30 March 2015

Marston Marshes and Eaton Common

With no rugby this weekend to distract me and the clocks finally moving forward, I thought it was just the right time to kick off the spring season with a walk around my local patch of Eaton Common and Marston Marshes. In 2014 I birded this area three or four times a week from mid-April to the end of May and was delighted to see and hear nine different species of warbler (including Grasshopper and Garden Warblers) as well as seeing Cuckoo and a hunting Barn Owl.
The season is still early and the weather hasn't brought a significant arrival of summer migrants just yet. The photo I took of Eaton Common yesterday evening would make you think it was still mid-January, but resident birds like Dunnock, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Great Tit were all busy singing and in some cases carrying nest material. A pair of displaying Buzzards over Keswick was a fine sight to behold.

Eaton Common, Norwich - 29th March 2015
A flock of forty plus Fieldfares certainly put a wintery feel to things but just beyond Keswick mill, high up in bare sycamore was a single Chiffchaff, belting out his onomatopoeic song. Hard to believe that such a simple and repetitive verse could sound so sweet, spring at last. A second bird was also singing in the woods between Eaton golf course and Marston Marshes. Chiffchaffs, along with Wheatears and Sand Martins are the first summer migrants to arrive. The males come in first followed a few weeks later by the females. The majority of British breeding Chiffchaffs winter in the Mediterranean basin but some also winter south of the Sahara with ring recoveries indicating that Senegal on the west African coast holds most of the sub-Saharan wintering British Chiffchaffs. So where-ever these two small warblers have traveled from its wonderful to welcome them back. In the next few weeks I expect them to be joined by Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps and hopefully Garden, Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warblers. I'll keep you posted and hopefully some good images to add also.

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