For a habitual wanderer, confinement to the proximity of my home could have been hell. I’m glad to say it’s proved otherwise. The order to “stay close to home, don’t get too close to strangers and be home before dark” isn’t new to most of us. These were the instructions given to me as a ten-year-old, budding hunter-naturalist. After my first few ‘lockdown exercise’ walks, I recalled those happy childhood days, which were full of discovery and exploration. Though I’ve missed my hunting grounds over the last seven weeks I have discovered more on my proverbial ‘doorstep’ than I ever would have realised.
When we bought our home nigh on two decades ago, it was because it was as close to the countryside as possible. Just four hundred yards from paths into fields and woods. As a new development tagged on to a historic village, the estate was bland. Twenty years on I’m now respecting the investment of Section 26 monies into parks and open spaces. These have blossomed not just into green spaces but also into suburban wildlife havens.
Lockdown had curtailed my voluntary vermin-control activities for local land-owners. A period of shooting self-denial. Every cloud, though, has a silver lining. We can get too blasé about the privilege of accessing remote and private land, to shoot. Land rich in flora and fauna. From the age of ten, brought up on a new-town council estate, I took every opportunity to escape into my preferred world of bird, beast, and insect. As a child, my only means of recording what I saw, heard or smelt was in my brain. Back then, there wasn’t room in my pockets for a notebook. They were filled with essentials like my catapult, penknife, and a Golden Virginia tobacco tin lined with cotton wool to protect the eggs I would collect. But I had a small library of bird books and a sponge for a brain. Now though, with a period of social distancing lying ahead and a locality to rediscover, at least I had a decent camera and a mobile phone with a voice recorder. So, five decades later, I engaged in the random surveying and exploration of the natural history of a few square miles of Norfolk. The final results can be summarised in the photographs in my Lockdown Gallery. Perhaps more interesting for some is the list below, detailing the birds seen and heard in my locality (North Norwich) during this period.
Goldfinch; collared dove; starling; blackbird; woodpigeon; jackdaw; carrion crow; rook; cormorant; dunnock; mallard; blue tit; great tit; jay; garden warbler; magpie; moorhen; skylark; nuthatch; chiffchaff; robin; house sparrow; buzzard; greenfinch; wren; heron; greylag goose; Canada goose; cuckoo; coal tit; whitethroat; linnet; yellowhammer; stonechat; song thrush; house martin; swift; swallow.
With ‘lockdown’ effectively over I’ll be stopping the list, though not the walks. I update my galleries regularly on this site but if you want to follow me more regularly, my Twitter ‘handle’ is @wildscribbler1
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the pics.
Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, May 2020