Thursday, 19 February 2015

Pensthorpe and the elusive nuthatch

Tufted duck

For the second time this week, we've made it to one of my favourite places. I love half term holidays. As always, I made sure I bought food to feed their captive ducks and geese; it's always good to make friends and have a horde of hungry water birds following you around for a bit...

The wilder side of the park is my preferred area though. The first lake you pass is called 'Old squaw lake', as always, plentiful in its numbers of tufted ducks, and this time there were a few pochard to be seen, as well as a great crested grebe.

After crossing the River Wensum, the trail heads into woodland and the first hide that you come to is usually fruitful if only in terms of numbers of birds if not in terms of diversity. My elusive bird this day was the nuthatch; this is the only place where I ever manage to see one. After scanning the feeders and seeing numerous chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, a few coal tits, woodpigeon, a stock dove and some mallards waiting below to see what would fall, we settled down for a wait. Luckily, one nuthatch did make itself known, although fleetingly at first and on the farthest feeder, staying to grab just one seed, then flitting back into the safety of the trees. Eventually, it seemed to gain confidence, came closer to the hide and stayed in the open for longer. Long enough for me to take a few snaps.

Male chaffinch
The walk through the woodland was pretty, although there proved few birds to be spotted until we reached the hides at the wader scrape. As often happens, the birders already present told us of what we'd only just missed: a peregrine falcon hunting lapwings. Unfortunately he didn't make a return whilst we were there, but there were plenty of water birds to be seen; a little egret strutting on its stilt-like legs, plenty of lapwing taking to flight and landing, teal, shelduck, oystercatcher, shoveler, tufted ducks, cormorants...

Making our way back to the entrance, we passed through the 'Millenium Garden', where there were great swathes of snowdrops in flower. There had been other bunches around the park, but these were the most we had seen. A sign that spring is truly arriving in Norfolk.

Full species list; 29 wild bird species spotted in all:
The wader scrape

  • House sparrow
  • Green finch
  • Blue tit
  • Great tit
  • Coal tit
  • Chaffinch
  • Nuthatch
  • Long tailed tit
  • Wood pigeon
  • Stock dove
  • Pheasant
  • Blackbird
  • Robin
  • Coot
  • Moorhen
  • Greylag geese
Little egret
  • Egyptian geese
  • Mallard
  • Lapwing
  • Shoveler
  • Tufted duck
  • Pochard
  • Teal
  • Shelduck
  • Oystercatcher
  • Little egret
  • Cormorant
  • Black-headed gulls
  • Great crested grebe


  1. Hi Sarah.
    We managed to see three Nuthatches the other side of Fakenham at Sculthorpe Moor last weekend. Two were coming to the first set of feeders as you enter the reserve, and another one coming to one of the bird tables from the fen hide. We also saw Bramblings, Bullfinch, Siskins, Marsh Tits etc.
    All the best, James.

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for that, I've only recently found out about Sculthorpe Moor, and have it on my list of places to visit! It sounds like a great place for birds.

      Thank you as well for having a link to my blog on yours, there have been quite a few new visitors as a result.

      Best wishes, Sarah

  2. No problem, it can be interesting and helpful to read other local wildlife blogs and find out what other people are seeing.

    Regards, James.

  3. I would agree that Sculthorpe is fantastic especially if you want to get photos. The car park at the dinosaur park (on route) can also be good with nesting pairs near the front entrance to the park. I have added your site to the links list on my own. Please feel free to browse my own

    1. Thank you Tim. I have to drive past the dinosaur park on my way to work, so might pop in and take a look there too. Hoping to visit Sculthorpe soon. Thanks for adding the link to your site, it is very helpful in terms of widening the number of people who might read my blog.