Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Big Freeze Blogservations

The weather, whilst tough for some of our wildlife, has had a positive impact in that people have found themselves paying closer attention to local patches, myself included. I cannot claim to be a dedicated patcher like some, but rather than risk driving further afield I have been quite content to watch what goes on in the garden and around the village. Here are my Big Freeze observations.

Fieldfare and Redwing. Our country garden is usually more suited to smaller birds, but this winter the Thrushes have taken over. Whilst the aforementioned species are nervy and rarely stop to feed, the fact they have dared to enter the garden at all speaks volumes about their mounting desperation. A recent flat hunting trip in Norwich turned up birds feeding close to Dereham Road.
A record count of 23 Blackbirds tend to boss the bird table and ground level feeding station. Quite a sight, and a challenge to pick out the dominant individual/s.
Male and female Bullfinch in the garden. As with the winter Thrushes, their stay was brief and they didn't even attempt the feeder. This is however a garden tick.
My father spends part of his week managing a local pig unit. He has seen Snipe on the tiny pond just off the road. A Kingfisher was also seen here in October, perhaps a sign of what was to come. Really special sightings for my small Suffolk village.
Last night as myself and friends drove out for a pint, I spotted a Tawny Owl in a hedge, and on the way to work another bird narrowly missed my front Windscreen. I would guess tawnies are doing ok, perhaps not Barn Owls due to their hunting method. Driving home we narrowly missed 3 Roe Deer in the middle of the road.
An evocative sight any time of year, a Starling 'swarm' in Thetford has been a pleasure to observe both from and to work. Around a thousand birds can be seen at dusk south on Croxton Road from the leisure centre.


Monday, 4 January 2010

See Eagles?

Icy conditions contrasted with a hot debate! Norfolk have already turned them down; will Sea Eagles find a home in Suffolk? This photo was taken with the Blyth Estuary in the background, an obvious breeding site should the proposed reintroduction take place.





Interesting if at times ill-informed comments here:

Fantastic birds they are, but my concerns would be with livestock owners and the wider countryside. Is this really the best way to spend 'conservation' money when Willow Tits, Lesser peckers and the like slide into oblivion?

Back at Minsmere

Not sure I have experienced temperatures this cold on the reserve before, a tough week awaits our wildlife. A Green Winged teal had been present for a few days, but I was unable to locate it from the East Hide. A teal with a go faster white stripe doesn't really do it for me anyway. A single pintail roosted amongst the usual suspects, and snipe were in evidence feeding and nipping around the reserve. A woodcock was flushed from the sluice bushes and a single Marsh Harrier floated over the levels. The highlight of the day came in the sublime form of a hunting stoat. Fantastic views for a few minutes close to the South Hide, what plucky animals they are.
On the walk back to the centre a Marsh Tit was seen and Water Rail heard.
After warming up with a jacket potato and a read of the new Suffolk bird report we headed to Dingle Marshes. What may have been Twite alighted upon our arrival. A wintering Greenshank was a nice find amongst the Snipe and Redshank. A single Avocet arrived from somewhere; a few for the year listers here.
We finished off at the Blyth Estuary, where around 10,000 Common Gulls had come into roost, their numbers growing during our short stay here. A large group of Knot swirled in the freezing air along with a few Dunlin. Golden Plover were distant but identifiable.
The drive home threw up a hunting Barn Owl near Darsham.