Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Increasing but getting slower....

With 123 species under my belt at the Mid Yare I think that additions will be a lot slower from now on! I am just 16 species less than I was at the end of last year but I am 56 points behind- that just shows what sort of quality the 16 species need to be.
Looking through my list of possibles for this year I am missing just a few taht I would expect to see at some point throughout the year - Greenshank, Crane, wheatear, Yellowhammer, spot fly, Crossbill, wood sand, osprey and little stint. After these species I'll need proper rarities!

At the end of March I was both top and bottom of the patchbirding East Anglia inland League -1st on species and points but last on comparative scores, essentially it means I'm doing really well but to beat last years score I need a lot of luck- with find points for Savi's and Marsh Warblers as well as Caspian Tern RB Merg, Eider etc 2012 was a good year for the fen.

I'm off out now to do a Bittern survey so hopefully something will present itself, I'd settle for Savis or Nightingale ;-)

I must admit I am really enjoying this patchbirding competition, it puts a whole new meaning to going out on the reserve. I keep a list every year but it means a lot more this year- if nothing else it is showcasing the Mid Yare Valley reserves and all they have to offer and being on top of the East Anglian inland patches  makes me appreciate living on it all the more!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A few more additions

An early start today before work saw far more Sedgies, willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps than the previous few days. Additions came in the form of 6 whitethroat(123), a singing Cuckoo(124) and a non singing garden Warbler(125). Also today the first common tern of the season flew past reception (not seen by me). I had the Garganey this morning again fly in with a female Teal, it then headed off at about 7am high to the east. It's so good to get the opportunity to study the finer detail of the wing pattern comparison with Teal, its a really obvious feature even at a distance.
Things appear to have gone back to normal for the time of the year birdwise, although more resident species should be breeding! The tree species such as Willows are usually an early source of nectar but are only just coming out, finally a welcome relief for much of the wildlife. 

Monday, 15 April 2013


That is supposed to be the sound of a med gull, of which there were at least three on the reserve today- 2 adults (a pair??) and a second summer. Very nice of them to show well for a change at Strumpshaw.

Other than that I picked up a female Garganey(122) flying in with a female Teal, happy to have noticed the difference in a brief flight view. It certainly didn't win any prizes for attractiveness but was a good id comparison with female Teal for the volunteers.

A Ring Ouzel briefly alighted on the riverbank scrub, seen by Ian but didnt stick around unfortunately, not an easy bird in the Md-Yare but I hope to get one at some point in the year! Lots of Sedgies, Blackcaps(123) and Willow Warblers all over the place now- a great sound of spring!

This little Weasel decided to pose for a quick photo before running almost through my legs and up the path!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

At last migration!

What a day it was yesterday, its fair to say that the warm air has finally brought some migrants this way!

I had to do a breeding bird survey at cantley so arrived early, not long after I arrived I heard an unfamiliar piping sound which turned out to be 2 Little ringed Plovers (112) displaying to each other, good to finally connect with this species. Moving around the riverbank almost to Buckenham and a Willow Warbler (113) was flitting about in one of the trees.
I finished off my survey and decided to head towards Buckenham mill where I could see that the marshes were hooching with birdlife. 1st scan revealed nothing out of the ordinary (hoping for Gargany) second scan revealed a couple of waders in with the golden plovers- KNOT!(114) My first Mid Yare Knots were my prize. I then decided to carry on a bit to look down the channel when I heard the familiar utterings of a Sedge Warbler (115), it was in subsong just warming up, almost as if it were trying to remember the right order of its song. My ears then pricked up again as in the distance I heard the polite yar of a Med Gull (116) which did me the honour of landing on the pool having a little wash and then heading towards Strumpshaw, it was one of those cracking adults in full summer plumage- crisp against the blue sky.
As I got past the fleet I heard a call that was instantly recognisable but almost unbelievable at the same time a WOODLARK (117) was heading up the river yare! That took pick of the bunch, being a pretty rare bird in the yare with not that many (documented) records as far as I can see, but i guess they must pass through at some point each year.
I then went back home and my little family had a picnic at Ranworth Broad (one of the few pushchair friendly places locally!) Here we watched a number of Common Terns, at first I thought there could be an arctic or two there but at range I'm out of practice with their separation. We did have Willow warbler and blackcap singing round our picnic bench too which was good.
I still had not seen a hirrundine by this point though- not sure I have ever seen willow/sedge warbler before swallow! So in the evening I headed down to the reserve and sat in Tower Hide for about an hour. There were hundreds of Swallows(118) and Sand Martins(119) flowing through at quite a pace, difficult to put a number on it but the birds were moving through so probably at least 400 Swallows 200 Sand Martins and i picked out the odd  House Martin(120) amongst them too.

So all in all a very good day for the patch- yes it was inevitable that once migration kicked off the yearticks would come quickly but a 9 patch-yeartick day with 2 completely new for the patch is a good day in my book. It leaves me on 120 for the patchwork challenge too which is a bit more like it!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Bog burpers return

A Bittern survey last night produced 2 birds making some sounds. One can only be described as grunting but the other managed a few soft booms too.
Its such a great sound to hear and already I have heard twice as many as last year on the reserve! I just hope the water levels dont muck things up this year as they did last year with drought- flood- drought- flood cycle.
Apart from the Bitterns (and greylags, bloody noisy things!) the fen was quiet, I was hoping for a few hirrundines to come in and roost as they usually do in late March, but it was not to be.

Ps I think my camera is working again so will hopefully add more images to future posts. I have been camera-less for about 2 months now and have not really missed it that much, good to get back to birding basics and not get annoyed about missing a good shot, but enjoying watching the event through better optics. Still spring and summer with moths and dragonflies and dare I say it a few migrant birds may change camera usage
Still on 111 on the patch list- got to be a lot of migrants to add soon! Fingers crossed for another 5 species by Sunday afternoon!

Monday, 1 April 2013

patch tick!

I finally caught up with a Mid-Yare Grey plover today, well to be honest there were actually two! I also had a flyover Whimbrel, my first proper migrant of the year. Apart from that there were good numbers of Dunlin, Ruff and still more Teal and Wigeon than usual for early April. Pintail numbered about 8 and there were at least 6 Marsh Harriers and two C Buzzards.
Nice to add two species to the patch list on the 1st April, better than the final 3 weeks of March already!

Survey season is due to start very soon (in a normal year) so I'll be out and about with my bins a bit more in the next couple of months, what may be a slow start will hopefully get back to normal by the end of the month. Who knows a moth may even pay a visit to my trap at some point soon... you never know?