Sunday, 27 April 2014

Due North

Easterly winds with low cloud cover has certainly delivered the goods in the last week.   The first garden warbler was picked up on the 19th and are now plentiful around the woodlands and thickets.  The first swift arrived yesterday and by today there were 3 in amongst into the 1000's of hirundines which were being hunted by their unwanted shadow the hobby freshly arrived yesterday morning.  2 peregrine falcons were also over on the 19th and another on the 24th which was snapped by Roy Vincent here:
Plenty of food for cuckoos now:
Leucozona lucorum enjoying a dandelion:
Water violet appearing on North Marsh:
And common spotted orchids showing promise:
The first 'edible' frog of the year (presumably a prime example having the stripes of pool frog and the spots of marsh making the fertile hybrid which equals this species) - not vocal just yet...
The scaup on d reservoir hit a peak of six mid week when 4 males and 2 females were present Roy Lyon:
Karen Williams:
A lone male remained today:
Common sandpiper was about on Sunday the 20th and 21st, with green sandpiper on Watton on the 23rd, 1 greenshank on the 26th and three on the 27th, 3 whimbrel on the 26th and a black tailed godwit in full livery on the 24th:
Three common snipe were on Hempholme Meadow on the 26th and a lone jack snipe put in a brief appearance between the tussocks of SMW - here running away from a paternal coot (if you can find it!):
4 little gulls dropped in on the 21st, and the two common cranes were present over Watton on the23rd again.  The 25th saw the biggest movement of arctic terns through the site in the last few years.  Its difficult to work timings out but certainly 9 and perhaps as many as 22 passed mainly over the O reservoir, with a further bird on the 26th and another attempting to rest on the 27th before being chased off by the black headed gulls.  A kittiwake found some peace on the 26th but had been replaced by a pair of lesser black backed's when I arrived:
A pair of avocets were logged on the 22nd building a nest but there have been no reports since.  Showing a little promise were the marsh harriers over SMW by Roy Vincent:
Barn owls doing well - even when chased by little egrets by Roy Vincent:
Whilst an osprey was about yesterday its a little too late alas for breeing intent.  Water voles have been great to watch of late on the North Marsh, but terror reigned in the form of an American mink seen hunting the area and investigating the new otter holt.  By blanketing the area with traps we fortunately managed to remove it within two days - never a nice job but one that's critical when Tophill Low is now such a stronghold for the critically endangered water vole.  Relief all round when we found them present again yesterday morning - hopefully they'll get some young off soon. 
   On the other hand this young fox cub didn't fare so well on Watton.  A great shot by Katie Hostad - we're not sure what the context is as it was being carried back to an earth - was it a funeral precession of a kill from a rival clan - perhaps someone who knows on fox behaviour can shed any light?
Bank voles by Bruce Pillinger have trebled under the bird feeders:
Willow warbler on Hempholme Meadows path RV:
And another by RL of an individual sporting twin rings on South Scrub (not one of ours as if we get a re-catch it is simply re-logged - unless another ringer somewhere else has caught a Tophill bird and re-ringed it?)
Little grebes seem to be doing well on a as far as we know pike-less SME Roy Vincent:
Oystercatchers yet to settle down RV:
And these displaying great crested grebes are yet to move to breeding grounds - video by Roy Vincent:
Grey Heron on Hempholme RV:
The lapwings are attempting to defend breeding territories from all comers:
Some of you may have noticed L shaped hide over SMW - I'm afraid no top secret breeder to defend; simply a rotted out landing that needed replacing - a good time for the volunteer team to get stuck in now we're into breeding season.  Hopefully this may re-open for next weekend:

Saturday, 19 April 2014

What’s cuckin’

Cuckoos have freshly arrived and are perhaps the vanguard of the big spring push.    The first bird was heard calling on the 15th by Roy Vincent, with daily occurrences and likely birds on Watton NR and North Marsh this morning.  Chiffchaff (Chris Bell):
Willow warbler and blackcap have been present since the beginning of the month in ever increasing numbers, with meadow pipits and alba wagtails moving through in numbers (check out Martin’s page for the latest on bird movements) and were augmented by the first yellow wagtail on D res wall on the 9th by Tony Robinson:
Pictures too by Eddie Laker:
The first house martins arrived on the 10th by Roy Vincent, followed by lesser whitethroat on the 12th, the first sedge warbler on the 18th by Martin Hodges, and the first common whitethroat this morning by Martin Lonsdale  Perhaps welcomed by passerines as much as a cuckoo were four lesser black backed gulls on Watton NR.  A pair looked promising last year; But failed to deliver – will they breed this?

Passing through was the first osprey of the year by Jeff Barker on the 16th, goosander on Hempholme Meadow was been interesting on the 18th, a pair of scaup have been a fixture on D res all month until at least the 16th, three Egyptian geese on Watton NR were of note this morning and a pair of pintail often on South Marsh East have been photogenic as ever – John Pickering:
Whooper swan by Rodney Maltas on the 13th was another departure, along with jack snipe on North Marsh on the 10th by Chris Cox, with all goldeneye now gone.

Best birds of the migration so far were a wheatear – an occasional year tick at Tophill on the access road and a common crane over the Water Works bird of the moment by John Leason on the 12th.  Otters have been seen but more eyes are on the much more rewarding water voles resident and burrow lining under North Marsh hide – photo by Chris Bell (see his blog for more):

And Eddie Laker:
Unfortunately there have been further reports of a mink in the North Lagoon area today which we are doing our best to catch before it devastates native breeders.  Also taking a dip have been grass snakes regular reports now – Chris Ulliott:
Chris Bell:
Eddie Laker:
A relatively textbook year so far; but what will tomorrow night bring in? South Easterlies out of Europe into a rain belt may not be great for camping, but they may make for interesting birding on Bank Holiday Monday…

Goldcrest by Chris Bell:
Pheasant holding territory on the old inspection ramp by Chris Ulliott:
Talking of holidays you may have noticed a drop in bloggings of late due to the end of financial year / new membership rush.  Plus I had a look at some exotica abroad too for a few days – New addition to North Marsh anyone?