A #30DaysWild Ride Home

It took me almost an hour to get home yesterday, day 12 of #30DaysWild. I regularly cycle to work and normally it takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the wind direction. Yesterday it was almost an hour in only a light breeze. It wasn't a puncture, or the choice of a longer route that made me take much longer, no, it was all the wild distractions, so many brilliant encounters that are great for #30DaysWild which is an initiative for June being encouraged by The Wildlife Trusts .
So here is the story of 'My #30DaysWild ride Home'.

When I left work I started a list in my head of bird species I saw or heard on the journey; Woodpigeon, Herring Gull, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Jay, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Whitethroat, Wren, Jackdaw and I had barely gone 400m. I paused on the bridge over the river Yare to check out the fish (obviously inspired by the hero of this year's Springwatch, Spineless Si). There were lots of fry and some bigger fish too, guessing they might be Roach, the most common fish of the Broads area. The water was very clear (made a note to go back with underwater camera) but what really caught my eye was a dozen, all males, Banded Demoiselles flitting across the water, occasionally pausing on piece of reed. Suddenly, I noticed a change, there was much more purpose about their flight, and sure enough a female had flown into the group and she was proving most popular. Whilst watching all this I could hear more Whitethroat, another Wren, I think about three Reed Warblers, a Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler all singing and Blackcaps calling in their stone chinking way. Species total so far: 16.

Male Banded Demoiselle - photo taken at Wheatfen Reserve, Norfolk

Female Banded Demoiselle - photo taken at Wheatfen Reserve, Norfolk
After ten minutes I moved on, all of 50 metres, to where a Song Thrush was singing an interesting repertoire. I tried a video but the battery life on my camera was an issue, there is a little below! Then, as I was being gently dusted with Willow fluff, a second Song Thrush started up behind me. I found myself positioned directly in the middle of a Song Thrush sing off. It was a bit like 'The Battles' on The Voice on telly, certainly these Birds Got Talent! It was great stuff, Song Thrushes in stereo, with a Chiff Chaff chiffing in and an incessant backdrop of Tit squeaking, Blue, Great and Long Tails. I wanted to close my eyes and just listen but didn't dare in case I missed a flash of a passing Kingfisher, they're regular through that area, but no luck today. Species total update: 20.

Blue Tit Fledglings
One of last year's families from a nest box at work, I didn't catch them with the camera this year.  

I moved on again, through the woods, it was relatively quiet in there, one Robin calling. Then suddenly a loud croaking/cawing from back near the river. Only one thing makes that noise, Grey Heron, and it was complaining very strongly, probably at some corvids giving it grief. I continued on around the UEA Broad, where I saw a Swallow take a drink, yeah I know a Swallow swallowing! I was taking the even more scenic route home, well now that I had started my birds list I wanted to know if it would beat the morning ride to work list of 24 which included a Kestrel. Black Headed and a couple of Lesser Black Backed Gulls were on the Broad, and a motley looking hybrid Mallard (all counts for the list tho'!). Another extended family of Blue Tit fledgers were squeaking in the trees and a Whitethroat tricolating (Norfolk dialect for sprucing up/decorating) a Hawthorn. A Goldfinch flew over the path tinkling, and another Song Thrush came into auditory vision. I was enjoying this gentle ride when suddenly a Cetti's Warbler blasted out its song at me, I wobbled for a second, and just as I had recovered a Wren did the same! Both must have been so close to the path. A Great Tit called to its mate and a pair of Magpies worked the path in front of me for insects, worms and more likely dropped human food. Species total update: 28.

Cetti's Warbler gives it everything when they suddenly burst into their dramatic song!
Picture taken at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in early May.

A Swallow not swallowing!
Picture taken at Hardley Flood, Norfolk #30daysWild Day 6

I carried on through Eaton Park, where there were more Blackbird, Chaffinch and Gulls. As I passed the boating pond three Swifts took a drink, all in turn and all aiming for the exact centre of the pond, was it a game I wondered? Out of the park and through the houses towards Unthank Road I looked out for Starlings as a week ago there had been several fledglings, not today. Maybe they are back out in another area of the park working the grassy areas for food. When I got to Unthank Road I heard a big fuss in the top of the trees. there was lots of wing clapping and crashing of leaf laden branches, it was a massive Woodpigeon fight. I did think, however, that the sirens I could hear heading their way was rather an excessive response. I don't think they were arrested for disturbance of the peace.

Here's a Swift from Hardley Flood not swallowing either!
Nightmare to photo such fast birds!

I arrived home to be greeted by Mr Blackbird and his couple of fledgers demanding more mealworms (I think Mrs Blackbird is back on the nest - actually I noticed she built a new one!). I put the bike away and a pair of Goldfinch stopped in the very top of the Silver Birch to chat before continuing their work of nest building. Either they are very slow builders as they were gathering cobwebs back in March (see the 'video' of stills below) or it is another pair, in which case, isn't that a bit late?

I thought to myself what a lovely ride home, so lucky. So what was the final species total? A splendid 29. No Kestrel on the way home but plenty of great things that were noteworthy for #30DaysWild.

Follow me on twitter @Spinkybird and see what else happens for #30DaysWild.


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