Monday, 25 April 2011

Decent weather but in the end it was a fairly uneventful weekend. Highlights were my first mullien moth trapped on Saturday night and adding both shelduck (88) and willow warbler (89) to the garden list.

Ringing has been good and the greenfinches are still coming in thick and fast. Friday was the best day while it was still calm with 22 new (17 greenfinch) and 4 re-traps caught. The usual Saturday morning was quiet although a female lesser whitethroat was only the 2nd I have rung.

A walk around Gun Hill this morning produced a few bits but with all the nice weather, most stuff seems to be going straight through. Apart from the residents, the bushes on the dunes only produced single whitethroat and blackcap. Raptors were in evidence with 9 marsh harrier, ringtail hen harrier, 3 common buzzard and 6 sparrowhawks. Tree pipit west, female ring ouzel, 14 whimbrel, 2 Med gulls and an arctic tern added a bit extra.

Friday, 15 April 2011

I was lucky enough to have one of our volunteers, Andy, coming towards me on the Meadow Trail when I found the Iberian chiffchaff the other day. Thankfully Andy always carries his monster camera and lens and was able to get a fantastic series of photos of the bird. Andy has kindly allowed me to put them on here. They are unchanged from what Andy has given me but I have resized them so enable them to be posted.

Thanks to Andy Thompson for the use of his images here.

While I was at Strumpshaw Fen on Thursday I managed to get out onto the reserve for a productive couple of hours. The drake ferruginous duck (looks good to me) was showing well from the Fen Hide and there was also a booming bittern. Loads of marsh harriers kicking about the reserve and a flyover green sand.

The flamingo of last week seems to have struck a chord with the local media as I have had the EDP call to have a chat and I was on Radio Norfolk yesterday afternoon!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What a cracking day. It was an early start to make the most of the still conditions for listening for bitterns. Within 10 mins of arriving the male started booming (3 weeks later than last year) and continued every few minutes for the next hour. A male gropper was reeling on the edge of the reedbed and my first cuckoo of the year somewhere near Island Hide. A check for beardies did manage to confirm the first nest of the year but there was little other activity so hopefully they will be late like the bitterns - fingers crossed. As I came back down the path I could here a bird singing just along the Meadow Trail. As soon as I saw the warbler I knew that it was an Iberian chiffchaff - self found, get in. The bird was showing well and I managed to get one of our volunteers onto it so he could get some photos before getting Dave. The bird showed really well throughout the day and down to 6' at times. I tried to record the song and call but it was impossible on either my mobile or dictaphone. Apart from the song, the bird is subtle but easy to pick out once you have got your eye in. The combination of the yellow eyestripe, white underparts, yellowish undertail coverts and the green cast to the upperparts gives it a wood x willow warbler feel. If I can get some of Andy's photos I will post them at a later date.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Desite spending most of the weekend rescuing newts and toads out of Mr Badley's pond, I did manage to see a few birds. A nice big seed feeder outside his kitchen was supplying several tree sparrow allowing cracking views and several buzzards were seen over the garden during the weekend. We did manage to have a quick boot around the reserve on Sunday afternoon and it is looking cracking. The water levels in the scrapes were good and holding plenty of birds. Lapwing and LRP's seemed to be displaying everywhere, 3 twite and a bunch of yellow wags were showing in front of the 360 hide but a black swan did lower the tone at bit! Highlight was 2 common cranes that came in off the Wash but unfortunatly they didn't hang around and carried on high inland.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Another day, another big bird over the reserve.

As I was walking up the east bank to go surveying this morning I noticed a small group of shelduck come over the back followed by a larger bird. Getting my bins on it gave me a shock as it turned out to be an adult greater flamingo!! I quickly radioed the rest of the team who just thought it was a late April Fool - they then saw it circle over the reedbed and drop onto the fresh marsh! The bird only stayed for an hour before flying east. Unfortunatly the bird had a blue ring on the right leg and was traced to Marwell Zoo in Hampshire. The bird has been seen around the south and has recently been at Welney.

There has been a good passage of wagtails in the last couple of days and this evening there was up to 10 yellow and 20 white wags feeding on the lagoons. They were a bit too mobile but I did manage to get a couple of shots. 4 LRP's, peregrine, 3 sandwich terns, 3 lapland buntings and a flyover bittern added some spice. Roll on spring.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

WHITE TAILED EAGLE!!! Get in. After a frustrating couple of days and facing the fact that the bird would probably bugger off and not some over the reserve, there was great relief on the reserve today as the bird finally made it to us especially as I had missed the 2005 bird and this one on Sunday. With news of the bird slowly heading our way, we were all on standby ready to dash down the path. After an hour of no news we gave up and went back to the office and I decided to give it a try at lunchtime. With still no sign I was heading back when I bumped into someone on the path and got into conversation about 'stuff'. The radio then sparked into life and the next hour was a blur. To start with the bird was distant over Barrow Common but was still impressive in its size. It slowly came closer and ended up coming low over Gypsy Lane and interacting with the marsh harriers. At one point is went behind some trees and must have been less that 30' up over Titchwell village! Eventually it was relocated further away and starting to head inland. In that short space of time we probably showed 70 people the bird, for a lot of them it was their first eagle sighting. As an added bonus, we had both red kite, waxwing and a 1st winter med gull west while waiting foe the bird.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Despite all the recent negative comments about how rubbish the Island Hide is and how the reserve has been ruined by the works, the birds were fantastic this evening. 2 garganey, 2 spotted redshank, 5 ruff, 2 black-tailed godwit and 20+ teal all feeding within 20m of the Island Hide. The only thing disturbing them is the idiot photographers who insist on going off the paths to the bottom on the bank to get better shots and flushing them need!

Even though it was dark and windy, I got these acceptable digiscoped shots of the garganey and spotshank today.

On a lighter note, hopefully the wandering white-tailed eagle will come over the reserve in the next few days. Watch this space.

Rant over for today!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

A real sense that spring is in the air at ringing this week. The summer migrants were the stars of the show with 14 of the 26 new birds. 10 chiffchaff (2 re-traps), 2 willow warblers and 2 blackcaps were excellent with a new goldcrest, siskin (very unusual site record) and treecreeper adding to the haul. 45 re-traps in total including a male nuthatch. Willow warbler Chiffchaff Siskin Ringing in the garden on Sunday was quiet but this cracking lesser redpoll was a nice early capture. A collared dove had made it's way into an open greenhouse when we got home in the afternoon. It was one I had already ringed buI hadn't caught it since last June. Lesser redpoll and it's rump.

Friday, 1 April 2011

1st swallow and willow warbler on the reserve this morning along with a large 'vis mig' movement of finches. In 90 mins I had at least 500 passerines west, mainly siskin (ca300) and goldfinch but small numbers of greenfinch, chaffinch, 4 yellowhammer, a rook (scarce reserve bird) and 70+ sand martins.