Friday, 21 November 2014

The end is nigh!

Its now getting towards the business end of the year when it comes to undertaking a yearlist. There are not many species on offer and every opportunity needs to be taken.

Had a bit of a lucky week with little auk and Richards pipit added so I though I would keep the momentum going and spend the day on the reserve. There are still a few seabirds I haven't seen yet, although its getting a bit late for most, so I decided to spend the morning staring at the sea.
Before I settled down I had a lovely confiding flock of 11 snow buntings (saw a further 3 during the day) feeding along the tideline.
The sea was pretty quiet actually. There was a small passage of duck but not a great deal else. A bonxie battering a GBB gull and a woodcock in/off were the highlights. A walk down to the Brancaster creek was successful with a flyover twite added to the yearlist.

Spent the afternoon in Parrinder Hide going through the ducks and golden plover but couldn't find anything out of the ordinary. The white headed golden plover was within the flock, returning for its 4th winter at least. The water pipit was still about but always distant at the back of the lagoon.
A nice ringtail hen harrier appeared south of the reserve circling over Choseley drying barns before drifting west and was probably the same bird hunting over Thornham Point later.

A fairly quiet but ultimately successful day. The addition of twite takes my yearlist to 188. Not going to break my 214 but 200 may be possible.

Pics 1-4 snow buntings
Pic 5 white headed golden plover on the fresh marsh

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

My Precious

After seeing a report of a large movement of little auks north past the Farnes on Monday, Simon, Chris and I met up early on Tuesday morning on a mission to see one before work.
The morning started well with a lapland bunting along the beach calling but other than that the sea was fairly quiet. A couple of red necked grebes were still about and the odd little gull and kittiwake were following the trawlers. I then picked up a small auk flying away and right, either a puffin or little auk, but i couldn't get anything on it.
We then picked up a distant peregrine with a kill being mobbed by some gulls. The prey was small, dark and still flapping, most probably a little auk!! The falcon dropped most of the kill into the sea but did come into the beach and feed on a small piece it had left.
There is not much time for birding before work and we soon had to leave without seeing any auks.
As we did, Chris picked up the peregrine again and this time is spent at least 5mins chasing a redshank. Completely out of the blue, a male hen harrier appeared and even joined in the chase for a time!!

Fast forward to this morning and I had a tweet showing a photo of a little auk sitting on the beach. We were working on the fresh marsh so unfortunately couldn't go down and see it straight away. The bird was reported to be ok and eventually flew south towards the saltmarsh. After about an hour we had a radio message to say the bird had been relocated on a saltmarsh pool so we headed up to see it.
When we arrived the bird was actually in the saltmarsh vegetation and not on a pool and was also not in view. As we were waiting for it to show I jammed in on a Richards pipit flying east along the dunes calling!
After a few minutes I picked up the auk flapping and trying to get out of one of the small creeks in the area. I decided that as the bird couldn't get out of the vegetation I would catch it and put it across the path onto the tidal pool.
With an audience I managed to not fall in the mud and quickly caught the bird. It was in good condition, very strong and had a good amount of pectoral muscle. The visitors got a few quick snaps before I released the bird.
The bird spent the rest of the day on the pool and was seen diving for food. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow

It was a new bird for Dan, Cara and Chris so everyone was happy.

If you didn't get the blog title, it was a subtle (or not) Lord of the Rings reference after the Auks. I was watching the films again last week :-)

Pic 1-3 little auk
Pic 4-7 habitat management work on the fresh marsh