Winter Walk

Drawing back the bedroom curtains to a clear blue sky, the sun is rising and not a breath of wind.  Ah but this January and there is a price to pay for a beautiful morning.  The grass is white with a hard overnight frost, the pond frozen as it has been for several days now and paths glisten with ice ready to catch out the careless pedestrian as my knee found out later!

No matter, it’s too nice a day to be indoors.  Grab the camera a banana and apple.  Warm jacket, boots and gloves, let’s go explore the countryside.

A Great Tit (Parus major) forages on a bank unaware of my presence a few feet away

I crossed fields, through woodland with the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and then the hamlet of Spa Common down to the old canal.  The footpath is still fenced off so carry on up hill and through the first farm to skirt the edge of Witton Woods then down to the mill pond at Ebridge.

A Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) provided a fly past. Not good news for the fish stocks if this fellow finds them!

The mill pond is part of the restored section of this dis-used waterway.  Today it was iced over.  To the side is a spillway, like a small man made waterfall it provided an area of shallow open water and to my delight was visited by the local Wagtails.

A gorgeous Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) glistens in the bright sun. Not common in Norfolk but the habitat in these mill pools and streams is very much to their liking
Another wagtail enjoys the ice free water, the more common and widespread Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Leaving the mill behind it was uphill on the field edge avoiding the somewhat busy, narrow, minor road to the hamlet of White Horse Common.  Named after a 17th century cottage which became the village pub in the 19th century, now it’s a house again as is the old Wheelwright Arms where I spent a few enjoyable evenings supping ale in my youth.

Not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ the Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a much maligned bird. At this time of the year their plumage takes on a sheen of purples and greens. The chattery song with much mimicry is quite pleasant. They eat a great many harmful insects and if you witness the pre-roost gatherings it’s one of the wonders of nature. What’s not to like?
A female House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) looks surprised to see me. No longer a common sight, the UK population has fell by 70% between 1977 and 2018 and is now on the red list of concern

And so back down the high banked lane and across the now thawed and muddy field to home.  A splendid few hours and miles with lots to see and enjoy.

52 thoughts on “Winter Walk

  1. Beautiful set of photos, Brian. I like your diplomatic phrase for the Starling: ‘not everyone’s cup of tea’! Their plumage is gorgeous, but they’re invasive here and such bully birds! Ditto the House Sparrows, but they aren’t quite as obnoxious as the Starlings; I’ve always enjoyed their chatter. Both birds really harass our native birds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice read! Reminds me of the walks I did around the Doxey Marshes in Stafford when we visited our daughter in the winter months, when they were still living in the UK. Sloshing through icy puddles in my wellies… so different from home!

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  3. You can be forgiven for seeing the blue sky, realizing there is no wind and rushing to grab the camera for a jaunt! Soon, it will actually be Spring again. Promise.

    What a lovely set of birds you have provided for my late breakfast enjoyment!

    Thank you for including the Starling and House Sparrow. They get a bad rap but they are still beautiful in their own special way.

    All is good over here. A cold front arriving tonight but we don’t have to contend with ice, snow and such birding challenges!


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    1. Thanks John. It’s habitat loss due to modernisation. Old buildings are ‘tidied up’ and the new provide no nesting sites. Most of the old farmyards have gone, those that are left are more efficient, no spilt grain = no food for sparrows.

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  4. I really enjoyed this post!
    Been grey and cloudy here so it is nice to hear of sunny, icy weather and what beautiful birds!
    We haven’t had many in our garden this winter…then this last week a few more when the temperatures dipped.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. haha! I know what you mean – I live in Scotland after all. Hoping for a bit of a sunny day off tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ample reward for venturing out!

    Interesting to read about house sparrows declining so terribly in number in your part of the world, when here where they were introduced they’re doing pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Often the case Dries. As I mentioned above to John it’s loss of habitat due to modernisation. New homes provide no nesting sites old homes are renovated to prevent nesting and those farmyards that remain are more sterile providing no spilt grain for food.

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    1. 🤣🤣😂 Wasn’t that bad Dwain! Never even noticed the blood ’till a couple of hours later! At least no one witnessed my slight slip and I stopped the camera hitting the road but yeah, it was a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Our days are once again cold having just made it back from our southern winter escape (ironically, they are currently experiencing an ice storm). Jealous you have access to those pretty wagtails. If you need to repopulate the House Sparrows, let me know and I’ll ship a couple hundred thousand back to you – and some Starlings as an added bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

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