I hope that everyone is keeping safe at home and enjoying the beautiful (but cool) spring weather we have had in recent days. These are certainly strange times we are going through and it will take a little time for us to adapt to the new way of life. However, looking out of my home office window and into my garden, I can see plenty of wildlife carrying on without a care in the world, it is a good reminder that the natural world is always there for us in hard times. With the lockdown in full force, I’m sure many of us have spent more time at home than usual and if you are lucky enough to have a garden, you will have spent a good amount of time watching the nature within it.

I am working from home quite a lot at the moment and I must admit I am beginning to miss the sights and sounds of the reserve as well as seeing the other staff and volunteers. I have managed to clock up 40 species in my Brundall garden, the highlights have been a pair of cranes flying overhead, a marsh harrier displaying most mornings, a pair of reed buntings and being able to hear a bittern booming at dawn and dusk. Spring is certainly in the air and the birds are very busy singing, the most obvious songs in my garden are blackbird, dunnock, great tit and great spotted woodpecker drumming. I have blue tits taking nesting material into two of my nest boxes and a blackbird gives away her nest location as she flies out to feast on the bird table with the male keeping a watchful eye over all proceedings. I have also been lucky enough to hear blackcap and chiffchaff from the garden, these are usually the first migrant warblers that we hear in this area and over the coming weeks they will make their presence known by singing throughout the county, including urban areas. I have yet to see any sand martins or swallows, but I am aware that they are on their way North so will keep an eye out for the first of these passing over, especially given the southerly winds predicted. My son and I have also been busy bug hunting in the garden, our best find so far has been the longhorn beetle, Pogonocherus hispidus, pictured below.

Pogonocherus hispidus

Toby enjoying close views of a dunnock singing in the garden

I have put a sound recorder out on several nights to see what birds are migrating over the garden at night, this is known as ‘nocmig’ (nocturnal migration) and has yielded some interesting results. I have had one particularly good night, where I recorded 2 common scoters flying over, bittern booming, barn owl, tawny owl and a dunlin, all over a garden in Brundall Its amazing what can be heard when the sun goes down, the nocturnal overland passage of common scoter was little known before a network of sound recorders were deployed. You can listen to the scoter flying over by clicking here

I have also put a moth trap out several times, but the very low night temperatures have meant that the contents were limited to six species. The forecast is to warm up very soon, so I hope to share some of my findings with you all very soon, my seven year old son, Toby is looking forward to this too.

My daily exercise has seen me heading to a local nature reserve, 400m from my house called Brundall Church Fen. This is an area of willow and alder carr managed by Brundall parish council, which leads to the River Yare and is about a kilometre west of Strumpshaw Fen. I will visit here regularly and will try to bring a few video diaries documenting dawn chorus, bird sound identification and also have a look at some of the bugs that can be found in the habitat, not too dissimilar from parts of Strumpshaw Fen. To keep up with my adventures please keep an eye on our facebook  and twitter pages.

Views of Brundall Church Fen and Marsh Marigold

The wardens are still going onto the reserve to the reserve to carry out essential maintenance, on these visits we can report that all is well, marsh harriers are busy displaying, two bitterns are booming and plenty of waders and wildfowl are displaying on the wet grassland. A Buzzard was even seen taking off from the finger post just before the meadows, showing that birds are already moving into areas that are now closed to visitors.

A reminder that for the time being Strumpshaw Fen is completely closed.

In the meantime, see what amazing creatures can be found in your gardens or local green spaces, we would love to hear what you have seen by posting sightings or photographs to help identify on our facebook  and twitter pages.