The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Nature Notes - January

Date: 19 January 2019

Firstly, news of some recent sightings in and around the garden.  Some old favourites have been visiting the feeders, including Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit and Goldfinch. And keeping a rather sinister eye on proceedings have been a Sparrowhawk and a Kestral – but they don’t appear to have had any luck (yet).  Mention of the Kestral reminds me of a brief but close and exciting recent encounter with one of those beautiful predators. I was driving along the road from Gislingham to Mellis, just going round the bend by Green Farm, when I spotted a Kestrel hovering over the ditch at the roadside. The remarkable thing was that the bird was only about 1 m above the ground so that from my position in the car I was almost looking down on the top of his wings – quite a spectacle!


It’s about the right time to begin seeing Fieldfares and Redwings in our surrounding fields. Peter Cottee has so far reported seeing a solitary Fieldfare in Gislingham but I expect that soon we’ll be seeing many more, together with their travelling companions the Redwing. Did you hear about the recent goings-on at Long Stratton Police Station? In early January, the police there found themselves besieged by birding photographers wielding huge lenses trying to get photographs of Waxwings! These spectacular birds migrate to the UK in winter from Scandanavia and Russia and a large group (called an irruption) had found their way to some choice rowan berries to feast upon at the police station! Sadly for me, I only got hear about this after the event or I would have joined the throng! It’s been several years since I saw a Waxwing and I shall certainly be keeping a look out for them this year.

Another “exotic” bird I have on my wish list for this winter is the Short Eared Owl (SEO), or indeed any owl! The SEO favours marshy ground, as may be found in places around Orford in Suffolk or Haddiscoe in Norfolk, where it hunts small mammals such as Bank Voles. So far this year, the right combination of cold, sunshine and no wind has not arisen, but we live in hope! Happy Wildlife Watching! See these and other photos at my Flickr site: