Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve

Mixed flock of bramblings and chaffinches
We visited a new place today, thanks to several suggestions: Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, run by the Hawk and Owl Trust.

It was unbelievable; within our first five minutes, at the viewing panel closest to the entrance, we had seen bramblings (my first ever - and five of them altogether!), bullfinches (both male and female), a water rail, a great spotted woodpecker, a nuthatch and more greenfinches and chaffinches than I had ever seen in one place before. It was heard to tear ourselves away from such an interesting gathering, but after a good length of time, and several conversations with other birders about what we'd missed elsewhere, we decided to explore the rest of this magical little wildlife haven.

Water rail
We made our way along the boardwalk, starting with the woodland loop which leads to the first hide. On our way to the woodland hide, I became distracted by rustling in the dry leaf litter and a fast, well camouflaged shape shooting from one tree to another, almost faster than we were able to keep up. Patience paid off here, we watched and waited and eventually were graced with good and quite close up views of a weasel (I think... it lacked an obvious black tail, you can see a video of it here). This was a real treat, I've only ever had fleeting glimpses of these small mustelids before.

The woodland hide gave us stunning views of another great spotted woodpecker, as well as huge densities of chaffinch and greenfinch and a few blue-, coal- and long tailed tits. We left the hide to the cheerful song of a wren part way up the closest tree, and continued through the woodland to eventually reach the Whitley (Fen) hide. Here, we saw more bullfinches as well as a reed bunting and many more chaffinches. Finally, we headed to the scrape, but unfortunately saw nothing from the hide here. However, on the walk to these hides, there was a sudden explosion of small birds from the Fen hide which flew over the pathway; they had been spooked by the kestrel circling overhead; a perfect silhouette against the bright sky. Luckily, it didn't spook another treat for us as we re-entered the woodland; a marsh tit and a tree creeper both making their way up the bark on the same tree.

Common frog
Our final reward of the day was provided by one of the friendly volunteers at the reserve who pointed out scarlet elf cap fungi that was evident either side of the board walk, then took us to the likely location of a nuthatch nest. They had nested in this particular hole last year and had been seen this morning inspecting it again. On our way out of the restricted area, we also saw our first common frog of the year! Looks like spring has arrived!

It's always lovely to discover new places to explore through like minded people, but even better when it turns out that the new place is as full of wildlife as this small reserve seems to be. We'll definitely be making this a more visited area of our 'local patch' of Norfolk!


Coal tit

Great spotted woodpecker

Male bullfinch


  1. Looks like a lovely place with great wildlife. I'd agree with you about the weasel,

    1. Thank you, it's good to know what others think too, I'm not used to telling the difference between them as I very rarely see them! It was a great little reserve, I couldn't believe how much wildlife we saw.