Back garden birding and lock down were still in place, I am so lucky to be in a position where I can see so many different species of bird and wildlife, and April proved to be very good indeed.
The month started with a couple of Hooded Crow sightings in the area and I picked up another sighting of one past the house on the 3rd ( by the look of things it was probably the same bird that had been moving around the neighbouring towns and villages ). Sarah and I counted 16 Hares on the morning walk of the 3rd too, and Buzzards were starting to pass in numbers.
On the morning of the 4th I saw my first Stonechat of the year, along the clifftop. The next spectacle when we had gotten back from the walk were a group of 7 Common Cranes passing over the house! Sarah had been the one to pick them up as they honked overhead, a lot of the time they cut off this corner of the coast but I have now seen them on a couple of occasions and no doubt will see them hopefully regularly each year.
On the 5th I had a pair of swallows pass over the garden in the morning and by the end of the day I had had 6 pass over, so nice to have them return.
During the beginning of April there were large numbers of Peacock butterflies around, the colours are simply stunning on these butterfly.
The 6th was a fantastic day if only for the fact that I got 3 Spoonbill pass, following the coastline just beyond the garden, a great patch and garden tick, I didn't manage any pics as there wasn't a camera to hand but that wasn't a worry, they were tracked along the coast and seen by other birders wanting this bird on their patch and indeed garden lists.
On the 7th whilst sitting in the garden Sarah said to me all of a sudden, slowly look to your right!? I did as I was told and to my amazement saw a Ring-necked Parakeet (also known as Rose-ringed Parakeet)!!
This bird had been seen along at Overstrand previously and over the next week would be seen again over my garden and along at Mundesley among other places. No denying the colours are lovely. On this day we also heard our first singing Blackcap of the spring.
The 7th also brought the full moon in April known as the "Pink Moon" heralding the appearance of the “moss pink,” or wild ground phlox, one of the early spring flowers native to North America which blooms at the time of the April full moon.
There was a large movement of Buzzards reported along the coast during the second week of the month and a few reports of "pale buzzards". This pale buzzard here had been seen moving along the coast, they can be so striking to see that I regard them as something a bit more special compared to the normal common type.
I do like to watch the birds of prey as they lift up on the thermals off the cliffs, being so close I have good views of them soaring and diving.
By now the tiny little wildflower "The Townhall Clock" had blossomed in the nearby woods, very easy to overlook due to its size. Each stem bears five flowers, one on the top and one on each of the four side faces, also known as Moschatel, I think the name Townhall Clock is a lot more fitting.
With a few Holly trees present through our and our neighbours garden, the Holly Blue butterfly is a regular sight, mind you they seem to be forever on the wing and a challenge to say the least in getting a photo of one, so upon seeing one happily moving over some Bluebells with no urgency in flying off I frantically "legged it" indoors to grab a camera, thankfully it was still there and so I carefully moved closer to grab some pics...happy days!
As the month progressed I saw my first Sand Martins of the year, Common Whitethroats started to become frequent on the morning walks (3 birds one day) Fulmar past the clifftops, a calling bird at night over the garden turned out to be a Moorhen. Then on the 22nd I managed to watch a new garden tick fly over the house, a pair of Bar tailed Godwits, being seen at Overstrand they kept to the coastline before cutting over the house heading east, but most memorable for me on this day was my first Swift of the year, low over the garden and a joy to once again have them in our skies.
Whimbrel were on the move on the 23rd, and a group of 7 Barnacle geese flew past east only to be followed by a pair of Greylags heading west...then followed by the now turned around Barnacle's which then couldn't make their minds up and indeed turned around and headed back the way they were originally going!!!
The best for the 23rd was a fly by Osprey heading along the clifftop, I had a camera to hand and got a couple of record shots before it disappeared below the clifftop treeline, it was that low. The previous year I had seen one fly in off the sea on the 26th of April so this bird beat it by a few days!
Hopefully a yearly experience?
There were quite a few groups of Jays moving through along the coast.
The 24th brought this different extremely pale buzzard over the garden as it drifted east with a couple of usual dark common buzzards, this bird was more striking to watch than the first one earlier in the month. It was obviously moving around a lot as it was later reported by David Bryant at Blofield Heath a few days later, check out his blog: http://birdsoftheheath.blogspot.com/2020/04/white-buzzard-is-this-same-bird.html
Every day I would see the Mistle Thrush go back and forth to the paddock collecting food to take to young, unfortunately I saw a Crow chasing one of the young birds (was able to fly, but obviously not experienced in evasion enough) which did not end well for the Mistle Thrush youngster.
Common Buzzards continued to move through, a Peregrine was seen on one day cruising along the coast.
Sat 23rd and what a start to the day!
I had read that a Rough-legged Buzzard had been seen over Cromer, I thought how I'd missed out on one the previous year as it kept inland, I stepped out of the house onto the patio and noticed a raptor approaching just in of the coast from Sidestrand, I ran inside to grab a handheld camera and raced out to see it approach the garden and head straight over .............OH MY GOD!! It was a Rough-legged Buzzard, what a bloody awesome garden tick. It was the same bird that Ian had found over Cromer, the missing feathers identified that.
AND.......if that wasn't enough, literally minutes after a Osprey headed past!! (possibly the same bird as previous hanging around?)
As the month drew to an end the skies quietened somewhat, I had finally gotten a couple of sightings of Red Admiral, ( seemed ages before one showed this year) as with the Holly Blue I had a Brimstone alight some Bluebell's and gracefully wait till I had photographed it, not often I am able to photograph these as they are on the move more than Holly's.
A super packed April.