Sunday, 31 October 2010

You see some and you miss some, that is the joy (or not) of yearlisting. On the whole it has been a pretty good week with jack snipe (194) and Bewick's swan (195) added and 200 is now in sight. Having said that I have missed shag, purple sandpiper, whooper swan and shorelark in the last few days which would have made things look a bit better. However, the highlight from the last coupe of week has been the waxwing passage. In the last 10 days we have had just over 200 birds moving west over the reserve. Mainly in small groups with the peak of 28 last Friday. Along with the waxwings there has been a massive movement of starlings. Yesterday I decided to do a sample count as there was a stong movement and had 945 west in only 3omins - in the whole day there must have been well over 10,000 through.

Decided to head out early to beat the dudes and have a look for the rough legged buzzards that have been haning about the Burnham Overy area for a couple of weeks. Got there about 9am ( after a couple of hours ringing in the garden) to find that there were already a few people there. It was pretty murky and it wasn't until I got nearly out to the dunes that a bird was spotted. At distance the 'buzzard' looked pale and good for a rough leg but as it gradually got closed it turned out to be a common. Luckly a cracking juv had just landed in a field fairly close to the path giving good views. It then decided to have a fly around and head over to the dunes where it was still sitting when I left. The only other highlight was 7 barnacle geese feeding close to the path on the way back.

When I got back to the road it was amazing that there were people watching and ticking the buzzard. When I put my scope on the one in the dunes you could barely tell if it was a bird or a rabbit but that was good enough for some - I didn't stay any longer!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Up and down couple days but two new species added to the yearlist. Walking down the West Bank with Rob yesterday morning we had 4 waxwings (190) flying west...very nice. The bad news for the day came in the evening with a pager message of an ortolan bunting on the brackish marsh - another new bird for the reserve missed. From talking to someone who was on site but didn;t see it, it was feeding with the twite and Lapland buntings on the brackish marsh until something flushed everything. It was the only bird not to return!

Today brought new hope and it started well with 3 waxwings south down the west bank first thing. There were lots of thrushes, finches and starlings moving west and we scored another 15 waxwings over the reedbed where we were working (another 10 were also seen). A whooper swan south would have been a nice addition but we couldn't get onto it. Sitting around at lunchtime, I got onto a passerine flying towards us. Lark, short tail, then it called and flew right over us, it was a woodlark (191) and only my second record at Titchwell. A walk out at dusk produced merlin, ringtail hen harrier, 5000 roosting starlings and a good count of 140+ roosting LBB gulls.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Having had a few birds there already this autumn, I decided to spend yesterday at East Hills near Wells. I was feeling good as there was a Pallas' and yellow-browed warblers close by and there had to be something out there.
Walking down the track there were a few thrushes and crests and it looked like there were a few birds in. On the way over there was a female marsh harrier but little else. Got over the main creek fine and headed out to the trees. The first few sycamores and pines held more crests, a good sign, but then things started to 'go wrong'. The main problem of the day was the numbers of raptors in the area. By the end of the day I had counted 3 marsh harrier, ringtail hen harrier, 2 merlin, kestrel and 3 sparrowhawks all hunting in and over the Hills! At one time there were 2 sprawks hunting through a peachy patch of sycamore - no bluetails today. The bushes and sycamores held a few migrants (3 chiffs, 4 blackcap) and there were still plenty of crests and robins but nothing of note. 3 lapland bunting and 7 bramblings added some quality.

After saying every week that the number of birds at our ringing should be dropping, today broke the site record for birds processed. By the end of the morning we had done 93 new and 64 retraps! As well as the numbers, the species variety was good with 16 species handled. Highlights were nuthatch, 4 redwing, 16 blackbird, 4 chiffchaff and 3 blackcap. The/another yellow-browed warbler was still on site but again evaded capture.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

It is pretty amazing that we are still picking up so many birds every weekend at our ringing site. This saturday we managed over 100 birds again with 58 rung. Most of the species were limited to tits and finches although 2 late blackcaps and a redwing were trapped. Lots of birds were on the move overhead with 1000 redwings, several hundred song thrush, bramblings and lots of starlings. Star bird was a calling yellow-browed warbler between two of the net rides but uunfortunatly is managed to evade capture.
Things have been very quiet on the garden ringing front for a couple of months now. Nets have been open for hours and not a bird caught. Playing tapes seems to bring in the birds on our other sites so I have bought a CD player and played some calls for the first time today....what a difference if makes!

Between 7am and 12pm I caught 54 birds, the most ever, and birds were coming is from everywhere. By the end of the morning I had ringed 2 dunnock, 18 goldfinch, 4 blackbird, 10 blue tit, 7 great tit, 1 robin, 2 chaffinch, 3 greenfinch, 7 coal tit (2 un-rung birds present this evening) and this cracking 1st winter siskin.

The most surprising species were the coal tits. I have recently seen 2 birds in the garden (trapping one) but it was real surprise to catch so many. There must be at least 10 birds about and possibly migrants.
Didn't manage to get much birding done this weekend as I spent most of it helping out a Countryfile film crew at Snettisham get some footage of the knot flocks for an autumn special (Oct 31st if interested). Did get the chance to have a quick look at the Coastal Park with 2 brambling and a ringtail hen harrier the highlights.
Black redstart (189) near the beach on Monday was the latest addition to the yearlist but I have missed long-eared owl and shorelark in the last few days.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Cracking short-eared owl hunting over the saltmarsh this evening. Yearlist creeps up to 187

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Working today but the compensation was that the reserve was hooching with birds. Had to put up a new sign out on the path so took the opportunity to count the fresh marsh. With the water levels low all summer it has allowed lots of new vegetation to grow. Now the water levels are coming up and the plants have set seed, the ducks are loving it. Teal are around in massive numbers and I had 863 on the fresh marsh alone and didn't include the backs of the islands I couldn't see. I am sure there was the best part of 1000 birds making it the 2nd highest count for the reserve. Also about were 60+ pintal, 363 golden plover and stil 2 little stints. Stars of the day were the bearded tits. With the nice weather birds were 'erupting' all over the place and 40-50 birds were showing well in small groups. Had a quick chat with one of our recent staff (not sure where all his hair has gone - probably been rubbed off by a thumb) and spent the rest of the day with paperwork.
Got a call just before 5, 'do you want to process a green woody?' Dropped into see Kevin who had just caught this young female green woodpecker - a nice end to the day

Friday, 1 October 2010

What a week it turned out to be in the end. After the rush of birds early in the week, things peaked on Wednesday with a little bunting being found at Thornham Point. The bird was found late in the morning and showed on and off for the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately I couldn't get down to the Point for this 1st for the reserve. Despite 4hrs searching by Dave, there was no sign on Thursday. The 2nd yellow-browed warbler of the week was found in the picnic area with a nice pied fly.
Dave then made up for his disappointing morning by pulling a barred warbler (186) out of the bag. The bird was as elusive as they always are, skulking in the scrub alongside the main path. Despite 2 radio messages I managed to miss it but 3rd time lucky I did manage to see it.

A good week it has been but my mind has been wandering up to Foula where last years crew have been bagging the rares. From the sporadic texts, they are getting more that last year and with still a week to go have seen paddyfield warbler, lancy and a load of scarce migrants. Looks like autumn 2011 could see a return to the Northern Isles - counting down the days!