Sunday 25 April 2021


Before the flood gates open and the summer migrants arrive in force (hopefully), it's just about time for a quick catch-up. 

5 kilometers from home

I am thoroughly enjoying the local patch birding. I'm on track to beat my 2020 total of 114 as I have already reached 106 before the end of April. The interesting thing is that of that 106 there are 14 species that I didn't have last year. Namely, Peregrine, Little Owl, Raven, Marsh Tit, Goosander, Grey Partridge, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Jack Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Scoter, Ring Ouzel and Common Redstart.

The undoubted highlights were searching Earlham Marsh one night with Stephen Vickers using thermal imaging equipment and finding a Jack Snipe. Stephen ringed the bird and I got to hold it before it flitted off into the night.


Jack Snipe, West Earlham Marsh, Norwich


A confiding Little Ringed Plover on Earlham Marsh earlier this month was a good bird and even better when it was joined by a second one a few days later.

Little Ringed Plover, Earlham Marsh, Norwich

Another highlight was a finding a fine female Ring Ouzel at Bowthorpe Southern Park, literally 5 minutes walk from my house. I was looking for a reported Yellow Wagtail without success when I found it amongst a flock of seven Fieldfare. The next day in almost the same spot someone found a smart looking female Common Redstart. I never thought I'd say this but I find myself preferring patch birding over searching the coast for migrants!! Who knew??


The first few months were quiet as you'd expect but I perserved. Redwing movement seemed to continue throughout the winter and was always pronounced ahead of and during icy weather and snow. It slowed to a trickle in April and by now they seem to be finally all gone. I look forward to the 'seep' calls again in October. In March I started to get Teal and Wigeon flocks once more. I waited and hoped for Common Scoter and got them four times between late March and early April.



I lived in hope rather than expectation for Ring Ouzel. However, to my surprise I had one night where I got two birds over. The NFC is a different from the hard chaking type calls they give during the day but there's an excellent article on The Sound Approach website that helped me confirm what I heard as being Ring Ouzel (and a bit of guidance from my fellow podcaster Sean Ronayne). 


 Other highlights included Little Ringed Plover (which I've had twice now this spring).


And a close calling Barn Owl (I live in a housing estate so this was a pleasant surprise).


Other sounds

When I bought the parabola last year I knew that come spring I wanted to record some of my favourite songsters. So far I've managed Grasshopper Warbler at nearby UEA and Common Nightingale at Maidscross Hill in Lakenheath, Suffolk.




Thursley Common

Its a bit like admitting a sordid secret. But when 'Colin the Cuckoo' turned up for at least his seventh year at Thursley Common in Surrey, I felt compelled to go and see him. Colin has been coming down to mealworms and perching tamely for photographers at the Parish Field in the beautiful Thursley Common reserve near Goldaming in Surrey for seven years now. To see a Common Cuckoo this well is difficult, I've certainly never done so. I got good photos, it'd be hard not to and some nice shots too of Common Redstart and Woodlark. I ran out of time to see the Little Buntings that wintered there but did have a little wander around what is a really beautiful spot.

'Colin' the Cuckoo, Thursley Common, Surrey

I'm glad I went in the end, despite the 4 hours on the M25 to get there. Naturally, if I got photos like this of a Cuckoo in normal circumstances I'd be thrilled, but it was like shooting fish in a barrell. Great to see a creature like that so well but I went away feeling strangely unfulfilled. 

Common Redstart, Thursley Common, Surrey

Woodlark, Thursley Common, Surrey

The Phil More's Corner Podcast - Series 2 Episode 4

We are joined on this episode by the long-serving warden of Cape Clear Bird Observatory, none other than Mr. Steve Wing. Steve regales us with stories of great days on Cape that included such birding gems as Blue-winged Warbler, Chimney Swift and the famous 2008 trio of Yellow Warbler, Solitary Sandpiper and Northern Waterthrush. We hear what its like to spend winter in the obs, we discuss the future of bird observatories and finally get to talk to Steve about his excellent book 'The Natural History of Cape Clear 1959 - 2019'.


The Phil More's Corner Podcast - Series 2 Episode 3

Spring is finally here and there's plenty to discuss on this episode of The Phil More's Corner Podcast. Sean shares his prize winning 'Cuckoo' recording with the group. We hear some odd Treecreeper calls and of course there's obligatory mystery bird.