Sunday, 21 May 2017

Raptor's steal the headlines in May

Red Kites continue to make their push eastwards, and the bird below was photographed (badly) today on Claxton Marshes, coming out of an aerial duel with a Marsh Harrier and continuing to search for food. Another, perhaps the same, was seen on the 13th in the same location. On the 16th I observed one passing the window, from the couch!

Huge excitement ensued on the 3rd. when a juvenile White-tailed Eagle made landfall at Buckenham that evening. This individual, assuming it is one and the same, has been touring Norfolk and Suffolk for a few weeks now and this was a rare opportunity to add it to the 'seen from patch' patch list. In brisk chilly weather, I parked at the Beauchamp Arms and walked east to a small hut presumably used for monitoring sailing or fishing competitions. This gave me an elevated view over Buckenham Marshes, and the Eagle was easily picked out on a gate post. Needless to say this was a giant of a bird, and the Oystercatchers were very brave indeed to want to harass it. I watched as the bird left for roost around half 7, trailed across the marsh by the local Waders, Geese spooked by the predator making a racket. Quite a scene so close to home. Avocet on the pools were also NFY.

The Swifts arrived back en mass over the 5th and 6th, and already seem to be getting on with nest building in the local houses. An evening walk to Rockland on the 6th was still wooly hat weather, but Common Sandpiper and Garden Warbler (3 territories now) were welcome year ticks. A Cuckoo was heard, and these would remain in short supply until later in the month.

The annual dawn chorus walk with SYWG at Church Marsh was a little disappointing this year in terms of species, but the attendees received good renditions of a variety of songs, including Grasshopper Warbler, and I was most pleased to see Nuthatch in the wet carr woodland. A week later, and although the wildfowl and waders survey was equally dull, I was thrilled to see a pair of Marsh Harrier prospecting on site. 

The first Hobby was recorded on the 13th, and and another bird was seen at dusk over the Beauchamp arms on Friday night. 

Mothing is slowly improving, and I have had a few first over the last few weeks: May Highflyer, Rustic Shoulder Knot, Least Black Arches and Cloud Bordered Brindle. None especially rare, but I didn't trap a lot this time last year so I am still getting to grips with even the common Spring species. Eyed and Poplar Hawk Moth have graced the trap, and this morning I awoke to a decent haul finally, (at second count) 13 species of 25 Moths.

Debs, Rose and I had a walk at Strumpshaw this afternoon in the hope of catching up with an early Swallowtail. No luck there, but Damsels were out and about- Azure, Variable and Blue-tailed. I also came across a couple of Hairy Dragonflies on my village run this morning. 

A year all about Raptors so far, with an over-wintering Hen Harrier, the arrival of the Kites and a patch addition in the shape of a Sea Eagle. Still time for a May mega to see out the month, and with half term a week away I am hopeful of adding to the list.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Winds hit their mark in the Yare Valley

Although the end of April and early May has been chilly enough to warrant a woolly hat and jacket, the winds from the east and north have bought with them some decent birds on the patch. Having been laid up for a spell after Scotland with an infection, I was finally getting better on the 23rd and headed to Church Marsh to conduct a Wildfowl and Waders survey, whilst at the same time noting any Bearded Tit or Marsh Harrier behaviour. Shelduck, Gadwall and Teal were paired up on the lagoon, and a single Snipe landed out of view. A male Marsh Harrier was circling over the western corner of the marsh but no sign of a female with him. I heard a couple of pings from the resident Beardies but nothing conclusive. Reed Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler although late were new for the year. The following evening I enjoyed decent views of the latter on Claxton Marsh, exciting to find new territories of this elusive Locustella.

A walk round the patch on the 29th threw up a beautiful Wheatear on Rockland Marshes behind the broad, not an annual bird for me and one often encountered close to the river on migration. 2 Common Tern on the broad were also new for the year, if expected. On the 30th, bird of the month bombed up river and onto the marsh- a Whimbrel! With the nights pulling out I hope to be able to add a few more migrants in the coming month before birds settle down to breed. Finally, as we entered May, Debs and I heard our first Cuckoo of the year singing near Coldham Hall.

If you are local, I am leading the South Yare Wildlife Group walk round Church Marsh on Sunday morning. Meet at the Surlingham Ferry Inn at 5.30am. Hopefully we get some nice birds to kick start the Sunday  .

I had to share some awesome sky shots of Claxton, and of course a record shot of my Wheatear.