|Sedge warbler, Derek Longe|
It’s looking like an advanced season for nature with the recent warm weather, for now at least. It’s certainly a good time to visit NWT’s reserve in Thorpe St Andrew on the eastern edge of Norwich. As well as spring bird song, marsh marigolds are in full flower and lady’s smock is coming out, too. Around the latter are orange-tip butterflies – for both nectar and as it’s a larval food plant – which also means the start of the survey season for some of the reserve’s volunteers. For a third year we are counting orange-tips (essentially in April and May) and Norfolk hawker dragonflies (June and July). So if you see someone on the reserve with pen and paper it may be Derek, Susan or me – but feel free to stop us for a chat, we can all multitask!
|Orange tip butterfly on cuckoo flower, Derek Longe|
My focus on the sedge warbler is for two reasons. One is simply as it’s a new arrival from sub-Saharan Africa, a reminder of the miracle of migration. The second links, I think, with keen birdwatchers’ constant search for the new or different. Yes, they’re back – like seeing an old friend after many months of absence. I haven’t heard a sedge warbler for ages.
What strikes as noteworthy is framed by both timing and place. For example, at Thorpe Marshes in 2017 to hear a Cetti’s warbler is routine, the strident song of this resident species much in evidence through much of the year. But go back a couple of decades and this bird would have been the surprise and across the UK – including in spring at Thorpe Marshes – it’s still scarcer than a sedge warbler. So unusualness depends on where and when.
|Marsh marigold, Chris Durdin|
Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks on http://www.honeyguide.co.uk/thorpemarshes.htm