In these unusual and difficult times where even most of the staff are unable to visit our wonderful nature reserves, many of us are, at least, still able to find nature around our local area. As you'll have seen from some our recent guest blogs, our staff and volunteers have been enjoying some unexpected sightings on their daily walks and in their gardens.
I thought it was about time I posted about some of my own highlights of the last three weeks, especially as on Monday I reached the milestone of 50 species of birds since we had to close Minsmere and the government brought in the current restrictions on movement.
While the garden is obviously the main focus of our wildlife watching, our daily walks also take us past other gardens, patches of scrub and small woodlands. We are lucky, because within just a five minute walk from home we can be looking across farmland, while the River Waveney is also within reach on a slightly longer walk, while a bike ride brings a wider variety of habitats into range.
While the bulk of the species seen have been familiar garden birds, such as starling, robin, blackbird, goldfinch and woodpigeon, we've also been treated to regular visits from house sparrows, a rook and lesser black-backed gull (on the house roof).
We can often hear chiffchaff, skylark and oystercatcher from the garden, and more unexpected fly-overs such as buzzard, grey heron and greylag goose.
Local gardens and scrub have added a good variety of garden and woodland birds that we see less frequently in our own garden, including several song thrushes in full song, dunnocks, long-tailed tits, and sparrowhawks. Blackcaps and willow warblers have returned over the weekend, too.
Dunnock in blackthorn blossom, taken by my son, Thomas, on Monday
When we've walked as far as the river we've been able to add mallard, mute swan, greylag and Canada geese and moorhen and singing Cetti's warbler, but no kingfisher yet, while in farmland we've found pheasant, red-legged partridge, stock dove and kestrel. Walking through farmland has also provided some more unusual photo opportunities - I particularly like the curves and straight lines across this field.
One benefit of being at home and exploring local footpaths is that we've discovered new routes and previously unknown habitats. It was at one such location - a small sewage works less than a mile from our house - that we added our 50th species of bird since lockdown. Better still, it was a species that I've only seen locally once or twice: a beautiful male grey wagtail.
Grey wagtail - a nice bird to bring up the 50!
The latest count is 55 species of birds.
Of course, it's not just been birds that we've seen, with seven species of butterflies found already, including brimstone and an early orange tip, while five mammals have included both brown hare and Chinese water deer.
For those who are interested, the full list of species that we've so far is below:
Lesser black-backed gull
Great spotted woodpecker
Chinese water deer
Also varies bees, flies, etc and a lovely selection of wild flowers, including these beautiful marsh marigolds.
Of course, there are many species that I hope to find. I must be one of the few Suffolk birdwatchers who has not seen a red kite in the last two weeks, for example, while i'm eagerly awaiting the return of swallows, house martins, other warblers, and perhaps even a cuckoo!
Please let use know what you've seen, either via the Forum, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654