James Lowen 

I have only paid one visit to the wonderful, cheeky, chirpy Red-breasted Goose currently wintering in Norfolk. It was a little distant (I could see it calling, but not hear it), so I may need to go back...


24 Feb 2022 Three colours: red 

There's been a bit of a scarlet theme to this month's wildlife (well, this month's birdlife). A redhead Smew has taken up residence on a fishing lake a couple of miles from home. This is only the second I have seen in Norwich since moving here, and last year's - during a big freeze - was much more distant. How wonderful it would be if this delightful duck began wintering regularly around here.

The nearby Hume's Warbler was fairly unco-operative, offering only the odd glimpse, though I scrambled an OK sound-recording. A little further away, the Hooded Crow showed briefly and a Great Northern Diver was relatively confiding.

While surveying in Littleport earlier in the month, I took a lunchtime detour to explore the Welney area for swans. I was pleased to bump into six Cattle Egrets, three of which were feeding roadside on what was effectively a garden lawn. How things have changed in the 30 years since the teenage me found a flock of five at Welney WWT reserve. Many birders I know had only ticked the species earlier the same month - and it was a very decent rarity. Now there are flocks of 300+ in Somerset. 

Yesterday, Will and Sarah coaxed me out of county to see the American Robin in Eastbourne. A lovely bird, although it was no longer being quite so co-operative as the first week it was being twitched. Indeed, changing its diet from sugar (berries) to protein (worms etc) suggests that it might be muscling up for migration. Although suburban, the surroundings were certainly better than the Grimsby bird nearly 20 years ago.