Sunday, 20 September 2015

Webs and Wheatfen Mammals

I enjoyed an excellent morning morning on the 13th, beginning at Church Marsh for the first winter WeBs count. Upon arrival in the carpark, a Siskin flew north over the churchyar, a species so scarce this year that this bird was in fact the very first of the year on the patch! I would hear a couple more as the morning lengthened, and this early movement suggests we may get a few more in situ this winter.
Elsewhere on the reserve, Chiffchaff were particularly vocal and the usual common species were soon picked up. The WeBs count itself was merely OK- 2 Kingfisher, 5 Mute Swan, 1 Grey Heron, 12 Mallard and 29 Teal.

Onto Rockland, and not surprisingly the large body of water provided a much better count: 1 Water Rail, 1 Common Snipe, 7 GC Grebe, 8 Mallard, 3 Tufted, 1 Kingfisher, 2 BH Gull, 2 LBB Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Moorhen and 2 Mute Swan.
More evidence of diurnal migration here, with 2 Redpoll over heading west. A Barn Owl was out late hunting the marshes, a Chiffchaff was actually singing and I caught a glimpse of a late Reed Warbler. With a Buzzard mewing and Cettis singing, this all felt a lot like Spring.
The best of the day was left until last. As I left the hide I scanned the gates and posts on Rockland Marshes, and quickly latched onto a Chat species. With the help of the scope, this was quickly pinned down to Whinchat, and a further scan revealed a second bird, 2 Stonechat and a Wheatear! My third ever patch Wheatear was the 'rarest' bird here, but Whinchat was belatedly new for the year. Pretty chuffed with all three!

Yesterday the 19th, Debs and I attended the small Mammal safari at Wheatfen. I was really hoping for one of Yellow-necked Mouse (scarce in Norfolk, only 4 records from 2013, although going by records submitted House Mouse is rarer, so a certain amount of either species goes under reported and or under recorded) and Water Shrew. I did not know Harvest Mice were also present at Wheatfen, but event leader Dan Hoare explained they were extremely elusive. Dan had kindly been setting and baiting Longworth traps for the past 3 nights, and were hit the jackpot in trap number 2 with a Yellow-necked Mouse. Elsewhere in the wood we had plenty of Wood Mice and an ex-Bank Vole. The damp but relatively warm conditions of the past week had given rise to some cracking Fungi, many of which James had ID'd on his Facebook page. Although something had taken a chunk out of a Fly Agaric, I have not seen this particularly species looking as good in many years.
We finished the walk and retired for tea and coffee and a look at various skulls and droppings. Thanks to Dan and Wheatfen for hosting an excellent morning.

 Fly Agaric
 Glistening Inkcap
The Face of Evil
Yellow-necked Mouse before release

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