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Showing posts from January, 2014

Looking at the patch with a Warden's eye

On Saturday 25th, I met Ben Lewis at Surlingham Church Marsh to begin my new role as volunteer assistant warden at both Church Marsh and Rockland Broad. I was thrilled when Matt Wilkinson had asked me if I was interested in the part time role, which upon investigating could easily be balanced with birding and school. During an average winter month, I probably visit Church Marsh three times and Rockland Broad once. My role here requires a once per month check of water levels and vegetation length, WeBs count, safety check and the odd bit of maintenance. Yesterday was my induction, and after being issued with a saw and pair of gloves Ben and I set off round the muddy track to get a feel for the job description. I was lucky enough to explore off piste, which as well as learning a little about reserve management delivered my first Woodcock of the year here and around 10 Common Snipe. I can see now why the Snipe like it out here, although they would do well to avoid the cattle's tread.…

Church Marsh on Saturday

A fairly nondescript January morning, light winds and a threat of drizzle and the temperature mild for this time of year. Selfishly, I would quite like to see some colder weather but I doubt our resident birds would agree with me. This benign Winter is giving the Barn Owls a chance to recover and should allow for a decent breeding season for many, should it continue.
I arrived to birdsong, whereas last year the trees and bushes would have been frozen and silent. Chaffinch sub-song was a first this year, and in full swing was a Mistle Thrush in the churchyard. One of my favourite bird calls, something distant and wild about this one. Another bird was seen near the ruins. Elsewhere on the patch were Skylark overhead, a smattering of Teal on the lagoon, a Song Thrush and Treecreeper. The best of the action was near the landspring, Church side. A small flock of Siskin were showing well, and in amongst them were a Goldcrest, Treecreeper and common Tits. The Siskin were so close I could hea…

Happisburgh then back to the patch

Made and early-ish start today and decided to head to the coast and take advantage of the glorious if chilly conditions. Happisburgh is always a favourite destination, and we were not disappointed for as well as blue skies and a bracing sea breeze we were treated to close views of 12 Snow Bunting on the cliff face 50 yards or so from the beach car park. The reported Black Redstart was easy enough to find on the rocks beneath Doggerts Lane, but he did not hang around long enough for a picture. I blame the local Robin and Stonechat for hassling him.

Late afternoon and a trip to the patch beckoned. I love the evening commute over Church Marsh and with it being January there were still a few obvious year ticks missing. Most pleasing were not 1 but 2 Barn Owl hunting either side of the river, one showing well from the hide. A Sparrowhawk was disturbed from its roost, silently gliding across the marsh to find a sheltered spot. A few Herring Gull flew over, and once the gloom had reduced the…

Patch bang wallop!

New Year's Day was an absolute shocker weather-wise after around 10pm, so bar a pub lunch Debs and I kept a low profile. Today however was a perfect opportunity to get the 2014 patch list up and running, albeit flying solo. This was a bird race, versus no-one.
Beginning at Surlingham Church Marsh, the bright sunshine meant the resident birds were seemingly more active than usual at this time of year. It did not take long to add Marsh Tit, Goldcrest (2) and wintering Siskin to the list. Looking across the river to Wood's End, an early contender for bird of the day: a Peregrine Falcon! Not recorded anywhere on the patch last year, back of the net! A real powerhouse in flight, a female I reckon. The Falcon had forced most stuff off the marsh, but a second treat in the shape of 15! Curlew circled and landed, a patch record smashed and to boot a tricky bird on the year list. Moving on round the muddy circuit, the expected species were added including Bullfinch (female), Lesser Redp…