Thursday, 1 March 2012

The King lives on!

Contrary to popular rumour of being eaten by a sparrowhawk in December it appears the kingfishers are still alive on North Marsh – as evidenced in these great new pictures by Tony Simpson:

My own theory is that the sticklebacks move off into warmer deeper water during cold winter temperatures meaning fishing is not profitable for the birds here and this happens annually. This online book makes great bed time reading and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about sticklebacks! It should be noted though there will likely still be a lot of disturbance in the North Marsh area for a couple of weeks yet as the EA works continue.

Obviously the warm nights that have brought the moths out have warmed the water too – encouraging this great crested newt back to its breeding pond:

And thanks to Pete Drury for this shot of the first grass snake of 2012 at North Marsh today:

A few moments later we also encountered the first small tortoiseshell of the year – with a number of bees on the wing too. Elsewhere this roe buck was on the river bank and can be seen shedding his velvet in this photo:

On the bird front there are still the smattering of waders going through – 8 redshank, 3 black-tailed godwit and a dunlin. Oystercatchers appear to be readied for breeding on South Marsh East:

One of many curlew:

Teal still present in numbers:

Willow tit was again on D woods feeders and a 1st winter mediterranean gull on D res roost on Saturday. Barn owl was showing well around the northern site at dusk tonight - thanks to Paul Mulvana for these shots of one on the approach road last week:

Peregrine again on the Watton NR pylons:

And the two smew on the pits – generally they hang about until early April:

They’ll more than likely disappear in this month – so last chance on the short-eared owls of which one was still showing today at Hempholme. It will be interesting to see whether this is just a one off given the numbers of them present nationally this winter – or if the habitat is good enough to encourage them back again:

We’re keeping all the new Hempholme Meadow habitat clear of trees to prevent predation of breeding and feeding waders – such as the lapwings which were peewiting promisingly over the new habitat today. To prevent disturbance to the new habitat from us we are planting a mixed native screening hedge around the new hide – Cliff and John doing some good...

Two weeks ago we put our tame botanist on the meadow to see what has already regenerated – we are leaving everything to return naturally – Alan has already found – identified from basal leaves or remains of last year:
Bedstraw sp.
Wood sage
Creeping buttercup
Stinging nettle
Tufted hair grass
Creeping thistle
Ribwort plantain
Mayweed (possibly pineapple)
Mouse-ear (common or sticky)
Creeping cinquefoil
Scarlet pimpernel
Betony (probable)
Birdsfoot trefoil
Great hairy willowherb
Iris (flag)
Upright hedge parsley
Common mallow
Broad leaved dock (most likely but could be clustered or wood)
Common chickweed
Herb robert
Cocksfoot grass
Spear thistle
Common field speedwell
Hairy bittercress

In a previous post you may remember this image of a ringed herring gull taken by HVWG – we now have its interesting history – particularly in its movements over the two days prior:

Thank you for reporting your sighting of a colour ringed Herring Gull. Herring Gull with orange ring 2012 was ringed on the 30th November 2007 on Seamer Carr landfill, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire (TA038820), as a first winter with metal ring number GN78416. I have one other sighting of this bird, just 2 days before you saw it, on the 10th February 2012 at Seaton Common, Zinc Works Road, Seaton Carew, nr. Hartlepool.

For anyone wanting to take in some of the above we will be running the monthly reserve walk again this Saturday at 10am: