Saturday, 29 January 2011

Pretty good afternoon at work today. Loads of people about despite the cold wind and they were probably attracted by the continuing quality of birds.

There are still loads of passerines on the brackish marsh, 121 skylark, 40 twite and 25 snow bunts today, the Northern harrier is still performing well and there has been 3 ringtails and male hen harriers in the last couple of days.
The highlight of the afternoon was finally catching up with the elusive hooded crow. Despite being around since before Christmas I never caught up with it for my 2010 list. While showing some visitors the 2 redhead smew I saw it fly through my bins and land on one of the islands. It was about for most of the afternoon but was still mobile and spent most of its time on the saltmarsh. It was a reserve tick taking my list to 257.

Usual excuses for the bad images but the light was pretty crappy.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

How things have changed on the ringing front recently. Back in the early winter we were getting nothing but new birds, now it is nothing but re-traps. It is all valuable re-trap data but it is getting a bit mad. Yesterday we had 9 new birds including a cracking woodcock but an amazing 113 re-traps! Most of them were blue tits but a 1st year male bullfinch from last year was nice.
Getting home, there were 13 long-tailed tits on the feeders so I decided to open a net and see if I could get any. With a tape playing, I managed to get one within a few minutes but the only annoying things was that some of the others were investigating to trapped one by sitting on the net but not going in.
This cutie and 2 blackbirds were caught

This morning was the Snettisham WeBS count. Not really something to enjoy as it is a nightmare to count. It starts off with an hour walk to get into position and the you are counting at nearly a mile distance in poor light. This morning the high was too high before the light was good enough. There didn't seem to be many waders around and they had probably been pushed further up the river. The pinkies (ca 25,000) returned to the saltmarsh at dawn and there were 4 Lapland buntings and a barn owl over the farmland. On the way back to the hides for high tide, 3 corn buntings by the pumpstation was a good local record.
From the roost hide there was a decent numbers of waders on. Although not easy to count, there were 16,000 knot and about 5,000 oystercatchers on the pits.

On the way home I jammed in on the 3 waxwings just to the west of Bircham that had been around for a few days and a load of gulls in a pig field produced this adult med gull.
If anyone wants to comment on the large gull they are welcome. It was the only one at the site and when I first saw it I thought that it may be a Caspian. I only saw it briefly before it flew off but it did show pale pinkish legs and a small looking bill and this was the only shot if it I got.

Monday, 17 January 2011

The news this morning said that today was the most depressing of the year and they were not far wrong. I had everything planned for today, spend the morning ringing in the garden then head off to Cley for the American wigeon and Warham Green for the harrier roost.
I opened the curtains this morning, no wind but thick fog. As it lifted, I managed to get an hour ringing (1 new dunnock, re-trap coal and great tit) before the rain arrived and it pissed down until mid afternoon. At least I had the opportunity to nail the beginner level on Colin Mcrae rally on the XBox!

By the time the rain had eased off there wasn't time to go to Cley so I just went for the roost. On the way I bumped into 2 adult whooper swans just to the north of the village - a nice start.

The light was much better by the time I was in position at Warham and within a few minutes I had the first ringtail over the saltmarsh. 2 barn owls were hunting over the saltmarsh near East Hills and another one passed really close not even noticing me. By the end of the afternoon I had at least 10 ringtails of which 7 of the roosted on the far edge of the saltmarsh. The other 3, including a striking bird with an all-white left outer tail-feather, headed off towards Holkham. There was also 2 female marsh harriers and 2 peregrines kicking about the area.

After a crappy start, it turned into a good afternoon.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

After nearly a month, we were back at our usual ringing site this morning. With all the bad weather delays and several pheasant shoots, it was interesting to see what was about. A 'bitterly mild' morning (9oc @ 5am) produced the first song of the year with a song thrush giving it some and at least 5 great tits holding territory - I am sure things will change oner the coming weeks!
After getting used to loads of new birds, this morning was a bit different although not unexpected.
Having said that, a haul of 16 new and 67 re-traps was pretty good. Goodies included 2 treecreepers, 2 goldcrests, 7 woodcock returning at dawn and a pair of 1st year bullfinches. In a normal year we would expect to catch 10-15 bullfinches but 2010 produced only one, so two in the first week was a good start.
This afternoon was hen harrier roost day and after missing the Northern harrier last month, I was hopeful that we would get it on today's count.
The conditions were OK but we could have done without the strong SW wind. Things started well with the Northern harrier hunting over the Thronham saltmarsh when I arrived. Good numbers of marsh harriers have been around recently and they soon started to arrive. 2 females over the Thornham side were first and then they started to come into the reserve. Next to arrive was a ringtail hen harrier from the north and showed really well for a few minutes with the Northern before heading east over the reserve. By now there were marsh harriers everywhere and it takes a bit on concentration to keeps tracks of the all. Another ringtail then arrived but quickly settled. By now there were 10 marsh slowly getting lower and dropping into roost when a 3rd ringtail was picked up just to the east of the reserve!
A great evening with Northern harrier, 3 ringtail hen and 13 marsh, plus buzzard, kestrel, barn owl and a huge flock of pinkies heading out to Scolt Head to roost.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

It has been a bit of an odd start to the year. Without the focus of a yearlist I have not been too bothered about looking for stuff on the reserve and I wouldn't even know how many species I have seen so far. Having said all that, I has been a good week for catching up with things that I missed last year.

Highlight so sar has been a female scaup on the fresh marsh since Thursday morning. I first saw it with bins and assumed that it was just a 'scaup-faced' tufty until someone said that they thought they had seen a scaup. On closer inspection the bird was a female scaup. The bird doesn't have a full blaze of white over the bill and I suspect that it is a 1st winter as everything looks fine rather than a hybrid. 3 more waxwings over on Wednesday and there was one calling over the garden on Tuesday morning. In Iceland gull has been in the Thornham Harbour roost several times recently - another one missed last year.

First ringing session for over a month tomorrow so hopefully there will be plenty of birds about.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Well, it has been an interesting start to the year!

New Year's Eve/Day was a bit of a messy one with the annual cocktail making competion going horribly wrong. After a Mai Tai, Midnight Cowboy, Damp Kangaroo, Woo Woo and others I can't remember, not much was done on the 1st.

Having said that, we did add reed bunting (86) to the garden list with 3 birds feeding on and off. 3 siskin and 2 lesser redpoll were also kicking about.

Adam wanted to catch up with the Northern harrier so we spent most of the day looking for it. We checked Thornham, Brancaster harbour, Burnham Norton and back to Thornham but there was no sign. 3 waxwing over Brancaster and the whooper swan at Titchwell were the highlights. We headed back home for lunch with the plan to retun to Brancaster for the roost. As were were about to set off, new came it that it had returned to Thornham, so we headed there. We got ther as the bird was hunting and decent views were had although it was starting to get a bit dark. Annoyingly, the bird dropped onto the saltmarsh on the Holme side of the harbour and didn't get back up until it was barely visible and flew strongly east over Titchwell towards Brancaster harbour.

There have been loads of birds in the garden in recent days so I decided to spend the day ringing. Ended up with a decent total of 23 new and 4 re-traps.
lesser redpoll - 1
blackbird - 3 (1 r/t)
starling - 2
blue tit - 8
coal tit - 3 (1 r/t)
goldfinch - 2
chaffinch - 2
greenfinch - 2
dunnock - 1 r/t
robin - 1 r/t