Friday, 8 April 2016

A Stork on the patch and more arrivals

For the last couple of years, around this time, I have been in Scotland. But with Easter falling earlier this year, I have been home for a week and therefore ideally positioned to welcome back our Summer migrants on the patch and add to my threadbare 'earliest arrivals' records, which now needs updating.

On the 3rd, it was a bright and breezy start to the day which was to be the pattern for much of the week. Down on Claxton Marshes, a pair of Stonechat cavorted, but there were little other signs of Spring with the resident Buzzard and Barn Owl out hunting as usual and around 3 Redwing departed. Across the river, a single White-fronted Goose at Buckenham was an unlikely spot in April, and a Peregrine on a post was also a little out of place since most birds have now returned to their breeding grounds.
That afternoon, the weather had warmed to a heady 16 degrees celsius. A female Marsh Harrier appeared to be prospecting a nesting site at Church Marsh, 1+ Bearded Tit were heard (my first Spring record since I began visiting here) and a Willow Warbler was new for the year. At least 6 Chiffchaff were in, all singing strongly of course.

On Monday the 4th, I had arranged to meet Joe Harkness at Church Marsh just after 3.30pm. Upon arrival, Joe was sat on the boot of his car looking to the skies. From my car, I naturally looked up to see what I was missing, and my jaw dropped as a lumbering White Stork flew low, slowly, west. I ground the car to a halt, but couldn't get anything more on the bird and a search of the marshes were fruitless. This was a genuinely exciting moment on the patch, and my timing for once had been impeccable. Seconds later, I never would have seen it. Joe had a better look than me and had not seen any rings on the bird. This and good conditions for migration add some credence to our sighting, and presumably the same bird roosted at Halvergate Marshes that evening. From Twitter, Peter Allard had checked the free-flying colony at Thrigby and confirmed that they were indeed missing 2+ birds at first light. This casts doubt over 'our' bird, but regardless of this information it will always be difficult to get a White Stork accepted in Norfolk. Joe has put together a lovely description though, and with the following in mind:

  • Strong southerlies for 2 days up until the sighting.
  • No ring (yes, I know some Thrigby birds are unringed)
  • Rare in this part of the valley (both genuine and Thrigby birds)
  • Another White Stork has turned up in Somerset
Why not submit it? 

Back down to earth, and on the rest of the reserve the other half of hopefully a Marsh Harrier pair was very vocal over the marsh, and pleasingly the Nuthatch has returned, this time frequenting the wet carr woodland down the hill from the church. Across the river at Wood's End, a small group of Martin species were hawking for insects, but were too distant to determine a species.

A visit to Rockland Broad the following day, and I added Blackcap to the year list. The Broad was very quiet, 8 Great-crested Grebes with the water almost to themselves. Back at home, the male Reed Bunting has been seen close to the feeders again and we are enjoying excellent views of the Buzzards across from us, soaring over the woodland, often seen from the couch, Lovely stuff.

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