Sunday, 4 September 2011

The curl of a sandpiper

After an admittedly desolate period on our Southern Marshes despite everything looking well, since Thursday night they have really picked up.

Earlier in the week passing little-ringed and ringed plovers both suggested promise, but Friday saw the arrival of three curlew sandpipers which were merrily feeding ‘til at least 16:00 tonight:

These have been joined by up to two dunlin, two greenshank (as per photo above too) and up to four different ruff/reeves at any one time:

And today one, then this aft, two-black tailed godwits – of which Jeff Barker has a pic here. I am expecting further pics of the curlew sands as apparently they came to feed close in this aft. Meanwhile David Ware has photos on his blog of some of the migrants.

To promote this run of waders we have dropped the levels a further ½” and also re-dressed the north lagoon island with mud – so hopefully they will keep building.

Meanwhile this snipe was doing its best bobbing jack snipe impression on South Marsh West in the ‘crake trench’ – so if that is finding food then there is hope that better may too:

Elsewhere the resident East Yorkshire pair of black swans have given interest too, and a wheatear was enjoyed by many – picking grasshoppers from O res wall top on Friday - Reserve Volunteer Jess has a great field sketch on her new blog here. Earlier counts of yellow wagtails were this morning dwarfed by another 30+ on the access road first thing.

Despite trying raptors have been steady – these common buzzards were both on the move though – and getting a hard time off the local corvids:

An interesting look at just what is moving from Scandinavia is viewable on one of my old college friends blogs – based in Lista at the southern tip of Norway here.

At the tophill ringing station Graham and the team managed a kestrel today – a young male – possibly one of the local family. Likely it was after some of the many blackcaps currently on the move – but interestingly by 9:30 there was an absence of willow warblers compared to last week. We have had September swift though – the 2nd being the latest date yet.

Thanks to Mike for these shots too of juv bullfinch:

Scrapping sparrowhawks:

And goldcrest – both at North Marsh:

This sizeable ichneumon was in the south marsh hide – possibly Pimpla pedalis? – but I’ll try and get a confirmation on that:

As ever kingfishers have delighted the photographic fraternity – Mike Day again kindly donating these excellent pics – threat display here:

Goodbye cruel world:

And don’t look if you like newts!! A disembowelled smooth newt:

Likewise both Tony and Rory too have recorded it taking the same prey items.

So what happens round the corner? After an abortive attempt to burn some of the island reeds today we instead embarked on an ‘apocalypse north marsh’ journey where no boat has travelled. Leaving civilisation at the kingfisher perches – this is how the photographers are seen:

On the other side of the islands lies this hidden inlet:

At this point an inquisitive grass snake came to join us:

Perhaps it had heard of our reputation on boats and fancied an easy meal – as no one had gone overboard at this point it instead dived beneath the waters in a fashion similar to a sea snake.

These pics are courtesy of Mike again from earlier in the week too:

Journeying further the channel narrows:

Before meeting an island with two routes:

The right hand route carries on further past wooded islets:

Before eventually the route is too narrow for our vessel:

What you see of North Marsh from the hide is around 1/6th of its total – so you can see why it is such a haven for secretive wildlife.

Yesterday on the reserve walk we managed the still present black-necked grebe, before finding this ‘osprey’ across the fields:

However a niggling doubt remained and returning with the scope on 30x I realised I had been taken in as with so many others – the white buzzard again!:

Note the snow white chest and head – the black line is its moustachial stripe – but a great ringer for a dark eye-stripe at long range! So beware of any perched osprey – even if the warden tells you it is!

So what this week? Having just watched the Countryfile forecast I think we can safely forget all Eastern waders and raptors this week. Judging by the winds the marshes will be peppered with long-billed dowitchers and pectoral sandpipers by Tuesday evening!