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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ringstead Downs NWT and Holme Reserves

 Swallow by the entrance to Redwell Marsh NOA

Cold, grey and cloudy for most of the day. I headed for Ringstead Downs NWT. Along the 'Ringstead Road' I had a lovely Yellow Wagtail bounding across the road and then disappeared through a hedge.

Ringstead Downs NWT
As I parked up in the small carpark, a mistle thrush was in the field behind me. I had hoped to find some Ring Ouzels here, but no luck at all. At least 6 Blackcaps singing and seen all through the downs and 1 Willow Warbler singing in the Chalk Pit. Several Chiffchaffs also singing, a Great Tit collecting nesting material near the barn, Blue Tits, Robins, Red-legged Partridges, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Hedgesparrow, Female Green Woodpecker, another Mistle Thrush, Jackdaws and some Guinea Fowl were seen! Big numbers of Wood Pigeons flying over. Carpets of blue 'Ground Ivy' and the blackthorn out in flower, made the downs look very picturesque. 'Lady's Mantle' was growing in the same place as it always has done, since I was knee high to a grasshopper! A few bumble bees about. If the sun had been out, I am sure I would have seen some butterflies. These dull grey skies and cold did not inspire me at all.

I spent several hours helping my mother with jobs. Took her to Wards Nurseries at Ringstead to get two big bags of compost and plants, then went to Hunstanton to buy fish 'n' chips (not for me though!) and back to Holme. Then off we went again to the supermarket to help her stock up on some heavy items. By the time I left my parent's house it was 4pm!

Holme Reserves – NWT & NOA
As I drove along the Firs Road, the sun came blazing out and before the entrance to Redwell Marsh hide I saw a beautiful Swallow perched on a telegraph wire (where the wires end). It looked stunning in the sunshine and I got some half decent pictures of it before it flew off. I REALLY miss those telegraph wires running through the marsh to the 'Firs' House – I know I 'go on' about it, but they were so good for so many birds over the years..... Bee-eaters, Kestrels, Shrikes, Swallows....... the list goes on – its not the same without them, at all.
Swallow by the entrance to Redwell Marsh NOA.

Parked the car by the 5-bar gate and walked down to the reserves via the NWT Forestry through the reserves and back along the road. In the Forestry I saw 2 Greenfinches and heard a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap singing, 3 Swallows flew overhead, nothing else of note. No Ring Ouzels here either, which was a surprise, as this is another good place for them. Passed Sophie walking home who kindly told me there was a Grasshopper Warbler reeling in the NOA carpark and when I got there, sure enough there was (5pm)! I love that 'reel', such a magical sound! Photographed a rabbit eating 'spring beauty' beneath the canopy of the sea-buckthorn adjacent to the NOA carpark. I looked for the Firecrest which is also still in the buckthorn, along the main bank, just before the observatory but no luck. Walked back through the pines, crossed over to the Firs Road and walked back to my car. Gloomy and cold again now. Apart from 2 Greylag Geese there were no other birds of note in the horse paddocks, not a single wheatear either. I did have my first House Martin of the year though!
Rabbit nibbling on 'Spring Beauty'.

I parked up near the NWT pay hut to listen out for a Sedge Warbler singing (heard here earlier today by others) whilst eating my tea, but too late in the day. Chatted with a birder who was passing, about lots of interesting things! Nice to meet you. 'Sandy Ridge' has been sold apparently – my parents rented that for a while when I was a toddler.

Back at home I was thinking and pondering about the Crag Martin at Flamborough Head......... its only 135 miles from my house!

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