Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Letting the cat' out the crate

Lots of comings and goings at the moment.  Outward bound were around 100 house martins and 50 each of sand and swallows this evening - along with a couple of common sandpipers:
Looking resplendent in some of the first rain for weeks the winds and hard ground have not been so favourable for waders.  The 7th saw a smattering of birds with green sandpiper on South Marsh West, and a ruff and 3 snipe on Watton Nature Reserve, and a couple of green sandpipers yesterday. 

Perhaps the rarest bird of the week was found by Martin Hodges on D res on Sunday - kittiwake! A couple of years or so since the last they seldom stray inland.  Ploughed fields are attracting good numbers of gulls into the roost now with 6 mediterranean gulls on Sunday the 8th too - one of the highest counts ever.  This nearly put a very brief visit by a lone black tern on Saturday the 7th into the shade.  All the details on Martin's and Erich's blogs.

New arrivals though however are the belted Galloway cattle of Nicola and Edward Duggleby from down the road at Beswick - that said these have freshly arrived from Skipton.  The two calves are reportedly the offspring of Countryfile's Adam Henson's former bull:
Very much 21st century cattle you can now like them on facebook here or even follow them on twitter @BeswickBelties

Talking of celebrities some of you may have caught a sterling performance on TV last night! The main drive of late has been to continue the establishment of the Greater Water Parsnip along the river Hull Berm - another 50 plants going in here with the great help of Brian Mallison and the volunteers here:
Sorting hay out:
And managing reed beds through burning:
Hopefully no castaways this time...
The gents working last week did come across some smart beasts however - notably this impressive water stick insect (not a measurer as I incorrectly noted last time) in hunting mode Roy V:
And Pete Drury
Still a good few butterflies about - Brimstone by Roy L:
The black necked grebe was last reported on the 3rd of September - thanks to Roy L for these:
With a couple of early goldeneyes which have been about for a while already:
Kingfishers are flavour of the moment Roy L - (more pictures on Dave's page here):
Narrowly avoiding at least two hobbies about - Jan Ellis:
Also by Jan a skulking rail on N Marsh:
And if you are really lucky - daytime otters by Jan on North Marsh at 1:40pm on a Saturday afternoon:
Little egrets on Hempholme Meadow - Roy V:
And a hatching of young grass snakes in the last few days:
It's been a terrible year for barn owls though.  Reports from back in May suggested that very few had survived the long winter - many succumbing to starvation like this bird the volunteers found on Watton NR in March:
We've now had the ringing report back and this bird was originally rung as a chick at Hempholme back in summer 2008 - so nearly 5 years is a respectable innings.  Thankfully we did have our one pair still surviving - and Robin and Dennis from the Wolds Barn Owl Group popped down to ring the chicks the other week; a bank vole left uneaten on the porch is a good sign of well fed chicks:
Investigating the box:
Robin ringing one of 5 chicks; an excellent tally given the terrible year "this practically doubles our total for this area" was the quote used.  Hopefully they'll replenish numbers for the future.
Volunteer Terry with one of the chicks; the few other pairs nesting in the region are all laying very late - in many cases the chicks are unlikely to fledge before October so it does not bode well for a cold winter: