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Friday, 27 May 2022

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve & Sculthorpe Mill!

I've been a member of Sculthorpe Moor NR for several years, but I don't exactly use my membership to its full advantage. I couldn't remember the last time I visited, as I'm nearly always drawn to the coast. So today I decided to visit this wonderful inland reserve, to see what changes have been made since my last visit. Due to my crazy late night watching a moth that didn't move, I didn't get out until this afternoon. It was a beautiful, sunny day and windy, but not the winds we want for May!

Half an hour journey and I arrived at Sculthorpe Moor NR. The car park and visitor centre looks the same, but the route to the reserve is completely different. From the VC, you walk straight out ahead, along a path with a picnic area on the left and some bird feeders and this looks a very pretty place to sit. You then pass the new Dragonfly Hide on your right, overlooking a small pool. This hide is spectacular with high backed chairs and windows that slide up and down – no excuse for people not to shut them when they leave, as easy and quick to do – Eddie would love this hide at Cley!

I walked round the boardwalk all the way to the furthest hide and sat there for a good while, hoping a Kingfisher may land on the branch perch, but no luck there. Swifts, Swallows, House Martins, Heron, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Reed Bunting, Mallard and Moorhen seen and Cetti's Warbler and Sedge Warbler were singing. Got chatting with a lady volunteer in the hide and also a birder from Colchester, who was visiting the reserve on route home. As I ambled back, I heard several more Cetti's Warblers, Blackcaps singing, Great Tit, Blue Tit and 4 Bullfinches at one of the feeder stations. Saw a Speckled Wood but shockingly no other butterflies at all.

I also met a birder here called Richard, who lives somewhere near Norwich – we had a very interesting chat about how much Norfolk has changed, which was quite amusing, as it was like listening to a male version of myself! "Norfolk has had its day" he said, to which I agreed! The most interesting thing about my visit was a new wader scrape and large hide, which are due to be opened to members and visitors, some time in June. You can see the hide from the path, but the scrape is behind this and out of view – this should be a fantastic addition to the reserve and may entice me to visit more often! Left the reserve just before the strict closing time of 5pm.

I diverted off to Sculthorpe Mill, which is generally a good place to see Grey Wagtails and is a idyllic spot with the pub, mill pond and weeping willows. The pub gardens are truly beautiful, probably the best I've ever seen – I last sat in those gardens with my mother, Lucy and Vivien, so that was obviously a good few years ago now. I waited and watched for wagtails, but initially didn't see any, Goldfinches flitting around, a party of Long-tailed Tits, a Greenfinch and a Wren were seen. I walked past the pub and watched the weir for a while and took some pictures, then walked behind the pub along a narrow and pretty road with a beautiful marsh to my left with yellow irises, horned cattle and mature trees and hedges. The river ran on the right side of the road with willows and other trees, it reminded me a little of the road that passes the waterworks at Cley/Glandford. My imagination ran riot and it felt like a perfect spot for a Bee-eater to be hawking over this marsh and with telegraph wires to perch on, why wasn't there?! Also felt good for Golden Orioles, Woodpeckers and a Spotted Flycatcher or two – in reality I had singing Blackcaps, Cetti's Warbler and Jackdaws. I also saw a strange looking bird perched on a distant fence post, which looked like some kind of hawk, I couldn't think what it could be with its very strange markings of bands of cream and chocolate brown – after consulting with other birders this evening, I was told it was simply a very darkly marked Common Buzzard. From the distance I saw it, I didn't even think Buzzard as it looked far smaller and slimmer, but distance can be deceiving. I also had a single Painted Lady butterfly here.

I returned to the mill pond and to my delight, watched four Grey Wagtails chasing each other around – they looked totally happy until a big dog took over the mill pond – the dog was jumping around, splashing in the weir and the owner was throwing sticks into the water for it to fetch. The dog owner stood there with his pint of beer, oblivious to the fact that his dog was stopping the wagtails returning to their favoured feeding spots, so I walked across to him to politely point out that fact – his reply was that he would only be a couple more minutes. This two minutes could be a long time for any juvenile wagtails waiting to be fed in the nest. I returned to my car, as I wasn't here to watch a dog splashing around – the idyllic scene had been completely spoilt. I had a coffee, 2 minutes passed, then another 2 and so on. The owner and dog were still in the same spot, and sadly no wagtails to be seen. Some people simply don't care. I left and returned home to my abundance of young birds in the garden, all happily feeding without any disturbance!


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