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Silent Spring?

I wonder what reader's thoughts are on the Spring of 2018 so far. Finally, and with relief all round, the Swifts and House Martins have returned to The Street, careering amongst the rooftops and trees in pursuit of prey invisible to our eyes. Swallows though appear lean in number. Regular walks through Claxton Marshes should be delivering Warblers aplenty, but it is just not happening. A guided tour round Surlingham Church Marsh in early May was a pleasure, but it has to be said unspectacular for birds. Cuckoos sang for the first week, then disappeared. We have had a Hobby over the house, and another at the marsh. The first fledgling Sparrow and Starlings are in the garden being fed by parents from the fat balls, life beginning anew. Things are happening, but the low density of our local birds is concerning.

I can only comment on what I see locally, and I am keenly aware that with this location I am somewhat spoiled. For example, an evening walk from Claxton to Rockland and back allowed me to observe Hobby, Barn Owl, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Reed Warbler and Common Tern. Really not that bad is it! Local Red Kite numbers continue to increase, my most recent sighting only 3 days ago over Hales. Perhaps titling the blog Silent Spring (after the book by Rachel Carson of course) is scaremongering to some, but it does feel like a wider European decline of our birds may have in some ways caught up with us this year. I am out birding this afternoon in and around Surlingham, Foulden Common tomorrow and odds and ends as the week closes. I would love to refute my hypothesis, believe me!

Sunday the 20th was a glorious day, so the 3 of us popped over to Strumpshaw Fen where Rose saw her first Swallowtail. Also on the reserve of note were Scarce Chaser and Hobby. The previous day, we had a Red Kite low through the garden, a tremendous sight.

The Moth trap finally got going in May, with nights remaining above double figures and some cloud cover. Friday 25th was the largest and most variable catch of the year, with 99 Moths of 31 species. New for me was an Alder Moth, and plenty of first for the year including Figure Eighty, Angle Shades, Alder Kitten and The Flame. One species, possibly a Pale Tussock, egg-layed on my shorts which were hanging on the washing line overnight. I brushed them off with a small paintbrush, and will attempt to raise the Caterpillars that follow. Yesterday was decent too, with Privet Hawkmoth and Gold Spot adding to the year list. A Wall Brown Butterfly was in the garden yesterday, Claxton somewhat of a stronghold for this uncommon species.

Just going back to the blog topic before I sign off. I saw it over the weekend on Twitter and have seen it before- birders threatening to 'pack-in', or quit, birding. Bizarre. This may just be in response to a frustrating Spring in terms of migrants where they live, but still, to treat birding as something you can turn on and off like a tap is alien to me. I call wargaming and painting my hobby, birding is just what I do. This has perhaps naturally extended to a range of wildlife over the years, and I wonder if at some point Mothing will eventually take up more of my time, with trapping in the garden, record submission, trapping in new habitats etc. Having said all of this, it is the Yare Valley, it is Spring, and it is Marsh Warbler week. Will 2018 be the year?

 Alder Moth, almost annual in the square looking at records. 

Gold Spot, stunner.

Comments

  1. Like you, Jim: I can't contemplate giving up my daily five-mile country walks because wildlife is harder to see these days: there's always something: a Hare, a Weasel a beautiful wild flower or insect. To me, part of the attraction of birding is that you never know what you will or won't encounter!

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