This visit took me to the small churchyard at Hethel, a typical example of a yard which supports a great range of bird species within a relatively small area.
Hethel churchyard has to its south a small woodland, the north and east periphery has fine Hawthorn along with other deciduous species and much Ivy for nesting and roosting in. Beyond the east boundary lies a large pond and paddocks, whilst beyond the north and west boundary is a paddock which contains Britain's smallest nature reserve 'Hethel Old Thorn' a single Hawthorn aged between 700 and 1000 years old. The crown of this Hawthorn was measured in the 19th century, its spread was a massive 30 yards. This fine specimen is still very healthy, both leafing and fruiting annually.
My visit to the churchyard at Hethel today was used to survey the number of species present. By the end of this 90 minute visit I totalled 28 species, some of which appear in the following notes.
It was clear from the start that many species were in song, and I soon discovered that some species were in the early stages of breeding behaviour. A Chiffchaff was singing and moving around the site, and indeed, numbers of this early arriving migrant are building generally. A very visible and vocal species was a pair of Coal Tits in wooded habitat along the east boundary of the yard. The male Coal Tit frequently sang, also both birds moved up and down the boundary feeding from the outer twigs and branches. Mating behaviour was also seen.
|Coal Tit in Hethel churchyard 4th April. One of a pair present.|
Also in the early stages of breeding was a pair of Long-tailed Tits, one of which was carrying nesting material (mosses) in its bill. This was one of two pairs present in the yard.
One sound which epitomises spring for me is the long, drawn out, lazy sounding wheezing call of the Greenfinch. Two males were singing in the churchyard.
Other species showing signs of breeding or likely breeding in the churchyard was singing Nuthatch, singing Treecreeper, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, and a pair of Goldfinches in a large, old Yew. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard.
At about 1500hrs a Tawny Owl called from nearby woodland, this in turn attracted calling and mobbing Jays and Blackbirds. A later check of the area did not reveal the Owl.
An adjacent pond held Moorhen and beyond that, a number of Rooks fed in a paddock. Another Crow synonymous with churches and seen today was a pair of Jackdaws.
The ubiquitous Wood Pigeon was seen along with calling Collared Dove.
As ever, my counts etc. were submitted to BTO's Birdtrack.