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.

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