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Getting to know our feathered friends in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 11:23 20 December 2010

The friends of Eaton Park's Christmas bird walk

The friends of Eaton Park's Christmas bird walk

Archant © 2010; 01603 772434

The wonders of birdlife were on show in a Norwich park this weekend.

Friends of Eaton Park organised an early morning walk on Saturday – providing an opportunity to join naturalist Peter Walton and discover how birds survive in the winter.

As the park glistened beneath a fresh covering of snow, and a thick layer of ice covered the park’s boating pond, the group was immediately treated to a courtship display. It was just the first in a long list of intriguing sights.

Organiser Helen Mitchell said: “We hadn’t even left the rotunda when we spotted a pair of pied wagtails engaging in a courtship ritual.”

Bird calls were heard as the group walked to the nearby wetlands of the UEA lake.

She said: “Peter has a great ear for bird calls and was able to hear things that the rest of us wouldn’t necessarily notice.”

She added that at the UEA lake the group spotted two different kinds of seagulls: black headed and common gulls.

“When you look through binoculars, you notice that the black headed gulls have bright red bands around their legs,” she said.

“Normally you wouldn’t look so closely at a seagull and that kind of detail would be missed.

She added: “It was also just a great excuse to be out in the park, enjoying the wonderful wintry scenes.”

Mr Walton, a naturalist who lives and works in Norfolk, led the walk which started at 8am and wound its way to the UEA lake through woodlands. Along the way he provided a commentary on the sights and sounds the group stumbled across.

He said: “At this time of the year the days are so short that birds have to work really hard to find enough to get through the long nights.

“From first light they’ll be looking for food and this is also when you’ve most likely to hear the December dawn chorus.”

The Friends of Eaton Park work with residents, park users and Norwich City Council to protect and enhance the environment of Eaton Park and to celebrate and raise awareness of the park.

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