The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Nature Notes - March

Date: 29 April 2019

In late February and early March, we had some wonderful weather – bright sunny skies that beckoned us all to get outdoors. I took the opportunity to tackle a couple of walks in the Norfolk Broads, visiting Reedham and Halvergate Marshes, following parts of the Wherryman’s Way and the Weavers Way, respectively. This provided not only an opportunity to get close to some wildlife but also to see some of the old drainage windmills dotted around the Broads that I find fascinating. Happily, several of those mills have been or are being restored and they make a fine sight amongst the rustling reeds. On my walk on the Wherryman’s Way, near Polkey’s Mill, I saw a Barn Owl flying along a hedgerow before he came to rest in a tree. As this was at 11:30 in the morning I imagine he must have been particularly hungry! The following week, when tackling part of the Weavers Way with my “other half”, Jenny, we saw a stoat darting about before he disappeared in one of the ditches. This time we walked from Halvergate to see another restored mill, Mutton’s Mill. All around us was the sound of Skylarks twittering – a lovely experience – and occasionally one would rise from the tall grass in a fluttering ascent.


Another highlight was a Marsh Harrier seen flying over the reedbeds in its search for food – some unlucky small mammals or birds. On our way home we decided to try the Reedham Ferry over the river Yare - a short but interesting and fun ride that saved us several miles driving.

Closer to home, the birds have also been enjoying the mild weather with all the usual suspects popping into the garden from time to time, including a Pied Wagtail. Here are a couple of our favourites that need no introduction!

I’m happy to say that the new butterfly season is underway and so far, I’ve seen a Small Tortoiseshell and a couple of Brimstones flying about locally. I’m keen to see if I can beat my total of 19 species seen last year! Tony Clarke’s quest to note all the birds he sees within the boundaries of Gislingham village continues and you can see his list here. 3rd Little Owl , Mill street 17:10 , Barn Owl , Back street 17:15 7th single figure Golden Plover flock , Mill street 11th tens of Common Gulls , singles of Black Headed Gulls , two pairs of Skylark in song , 10 Fieldfare all in fields between Mellis road and Burgate road . 3 Green Woodpeckers , Charities meadow . 12th 10 + Fieldfare , 10+ Redwing , 1 Yellowhammer , lots of residents in song including Chaffinch , Robin , Great Tit etc . , Gislingham Road - High street . 14th female Grey Wagtail ( retirement list bird no. 59 ) , 10+Pied Wagtails , water works Thornham road . Nuthatch nearby . Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming , heard Little Owl calling in trees along Thornham road . Song Thrush in song . 15th Barn Owl , Thornham road 7:50 , 100+Fieldfare in fields next to the bridle way between Mellis - Burgate roads . 22nd Lots of residents in song including Wren , Greenfinch , Dunnock , Yellowhammer , Skylark etc all in fields between Mill street and Back street + feeding party of 17 Rooks . 25th Buzzard perched on tree next to water works . Prominent singing Mistle Thrush near to village hall . Still big double figure flock of Fieldfare , Mellis - Burgate roads + Common Gulls . Other wildlife around the village included a few Hares , 4 Roe Deer and Tortoiseshell butterfly in the warm sunshine .