Spring Arrivals

With the warm, sunny days of recent weeks it has really started to feel like summer, let alone spring! Released from the confines of the office at the weekend, Sunday saw us exploring Thetford in search of nests.

Song thrush nest, as seen through the nester’s mirror stick, one of eight nests found today

Climbing over trees and picking our way though bramble undergrowth, we searched amongst the ivy and trees of woodlands, before breaking out into the blazing blue sky and warm sun bathing open grass and scubby areas. All around resident birds were singing; robins, dunnocks, blackbirds to name a few; all sang their songs heralding their territories and hidden nests. Intermixed with these resident species were the unmistakable calls and song of migrants…birds that have returned from far afield after epic journeys of thousands of miles to breed once more in the summer climes of the UK.

Today’s wanderings saw our first willow warbler of the year, having just returned from tropical and southern Africa and immediately singing his heart out. Mingling with this charismatic song were a number of chiffchaff’s, so similar in appearance to the willow warbler but with such a distinctive song that gives them their name..”chiff chaff…chaff chiff…”

Willow warbler singing in the UK sun after a winter under the African sun

Another newly arrived migrant, fresh from a winter further south in Africa, was a rather odd looking bird, the stone-curlew. A rare breeding bird in Britain, the stone-curlew has large, bright yellow eyes and yellow legs with thick knees. Once common across southern and eastern England, stone-curlew’s underwent a dramatic decline since the 1940s with numbers reduced by 85%. Concerted conservation efforts at the last two breeding strongholds in East Anglia and Salisbury Plain began in the early 1980s, since when numbers of breeding pairs have doubled and there are now approximately 307 pairs in England.

Later in the day, with the sun setting and pink, evening light splashing the edges of the few whisps of clouds in the sky, we heard a twittering overhead that later in the summer will become second nature, part of the background summer sounds…but today it meant one thing…. the swallows have returned…

Beautiful swallow, one of the classic birds of summer

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