Its been a while so I'll try to sum up what I've been doing over the past few months, with assistance of blurry digiscoped photos which contain just enough clarity to grip off those that weren't there (sorry).
Survey season at the reserve has pretty much finished for another year now, with lots of early morning starts now behind me its time to get into a more normal 9-5 routine. I have carried out 5 breeding bird visits at Buckenham, Bearded tit surveys, Marsh Harrier surveys, Bittern listens and nest watches, Woodland point counts and Spotted crake surveys and 4 wildfowl and wader visits...all enough to keep busy, now I need to process lots of maps.
Initial findings show that its been a better year than last year for the breeders (not surprising) we have had a small number of Bearded tit nests (up from 1 last yr to 10!) these will continue to rise over the next few years since they were pretty much all wiped out by the cold winter of 12/13. Marsh Harriers are again having a pretty good year with many a food pass visable from the paths/hides around the reserve much to the delight of many visitors. I finally confirmed the first Bittern nest for 3 years last Monday, which is a great relief, the reserve should support many more really! Many of you will have also noticed that Cranes have featured on bird news services recently, they certainly have been around for a long period and there have mainly been a pair with another male hanging about, but 5 have been seen a few times recently. So although they are not breeding this year there is hope that this could be the start of a new population of Cranes in the valley, the habitats perfect and they can find space away from human disturbance if they wish to have peace. Finally on the survey front we did have brief Spotted crake singing on the reserve, which as far as I know is the first for about 8yrs...now to find the Baillons!
|Obligatory Sugar factory framing|
|Single male on other side of the river taken from Strumpshaw|
The patchwork challenge species list has slowed quite a lot lately, as expected at this time of the year, but recent additions worthy of mention have been Spotted Fly, Spotted crake and Red Kite. The total for this year is up to 138 species, quite far behind on last year, I'm not doing well for waders at the moment so I'm hoping the midsummer/autumn migrants can help lift the list a little.
I have partaken in a little twitching of late, a few decent birds have turned up and I have felt compelled to have a ganders at them. The first of which was a Black Headed Bunting at West Runton, this bird performed far better for me than many other stories I have heard. I got the the car park and saw the bird immediately, this was my first uk addition since the Pacific Swift almost exactly a year ago.
|Classic digiscoped shot|
The second bit of twitching was quite out of character for me, I recieved a twitter message saying space in a car to go to Dorset for the Short Toed Eagle, I jumped at the opportunity and found myself walking halfway accross norwich at midnight to get a lift and then in a car overnight (thanks guys!!). It all proved worthwhile when at 04.30 we got out of the car to the sound of Nightjar, followed by views of the Eagle waking up from its slumber. The bird was showing well if a little distantly and then also gave us the pleasure of having a fly about when the temperature rose. This was a truely magnificent bird and one I certainly did not expect to see, other birds present at Morden Bog included Dartford Warblers, tree pipits woodlarks and a flyover Honey Buzzard, a very nice supporting cast!
|Those eyes were captivating, even through a heat hazy scope!|
|The tree gives a better scale of the bird- BIG!|
Back to Norfolk and just a couple of days later a Spectacled Warbler turned up at Gun Hill, a day later I was watching this little cracker singing, calling and geneally showing pretty well. It was a pleasant surprise to see how different from Common Whitethroat this bird was, Collins didnt quite do it the justice it deserved, but a lot of that was down to behavior I guess. We also jammed in on the Cley Blyth's reed warbler on the way home (a norfolk tick).
|Spectacled Warbler..just (not sure it would do for the BBRC?!)|
A final word on list recounts gives me BOU-399 UK400-413 and my personal list of all forms seen (ie including BB dipper grey headed wag etc) is 422.
Other than that I have set myself the challenge of hoverflies this year, having successfully completed previous years tasks of Moths, dragonflies, grasshoppers and crickets. I am quite enjoying this task, although I am finding that a lot of it is rainy day microscopic work to get positive identifications, but I guess thats a new skill in itself and is teaching me insect anatomy at another level.....all useful stuff for the future.
The fen is currently alive with insects once again and at this time of the year with Swallowtials out, there are plenty of people looking around the reserves, hopefully something else will turn up soon.
A final bit of personal news is that Friday was my last day as an assistant warden at Strumpshaw Fen and I have been promoted to Strumpshaw Fen Warden! Obviously I am very pleased by this promotion, it gives me more responsibility and a slightly changed role, which I am very keen to take on and embrace. Hopefully changes will be noticeable!
I'll try not to leave it so long next time- Apologies, I'm having too much fun out and about... or at home being a father and husband!