Sunday, 5 February 2017
3. Marston Marsh
Walking along the railway line near Keswick Mill, the air was filled with the plaintive song of the robin. In every direction, in every tree, there seemed to be another red breasted songster, advertising its presence to its competitors. The odd black bird chimed in, not wanting to be overlooked. The more we walked, getting further from the golf course and closer to the marsh and the surrounding stands of trees, the more variety in bird song we heard. A green finch calling its ‘tzveeee’ song from the other side of the railway line, blue tits chattering and seemingly shouting at us and each other, and long tailed tits ‘see-see-seeing’ companionably. Their stocky bodies and long tails stark against the bare twigs of the trees, making it very obvious where the old name of ‘barrel bird’ came from.
Once we were out on the open marsh and field, we strolled along the ‘path’ clinging closely to the River Yare. A little egret perched, preening its long white feathers, framed by the branches of the tree on which it sat, enjoying the sun as it broke through the cloud. The golden rays of winter sunlight brought the colours back to the landscape, picking out the green of the grasses, the gold of the reeds, the fawn of the trees and the yellow of the lichen encrusting them. There also seemed to be an audible difference in the level of birdsong. A song thrush began its beautifully repetitive song and a green woodpecker yaffled across the marsh, but stayed well hidden. Jay’s showed off their blue and orange flashes, reflecting strongly those wavelengths of the sun’s light. A collection of quiet birds, which may have been tree sparrows (they moved too quickly to get a clear look, but their heads looked wrong for house sparrows) and a charm of goldfinches heralded our way out of the reserve and back in Eaton. However, a parting gift was a crowd of redwings foraging in the grounds of the scout activity centre. Sometimes, you find good sightings in unexpected places!