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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (17th February 2018)

It was an usually warm day at Sculthorpe Moor and it was possibly because of the weather that we had in excess of 120 visitors! This is significantly higher than the numbers we have had in recent weeks and hopefully this will continue.

The warm sun continued throughout the afternoon with very little cloud cover, whilst temperatures remained between 8 to 10°C. Hopefully this is the sign of things to come and that Spring has come early!

A warm afternoon at Sculthorpe Moor

The following was seen from 12.30pm:
Bullfinch x 4
Chaffinch x 16
Goldfinch x 4
Siskin x 3 - A pair were seen perched high in the trees on the approach to Whitley Hide, whilst another individual was seen on the niger seed feeders outside the Volunteers' Hide.
Sparrowhank x 1 - A single bird flying, above the trees, in the direction of Oak Fen.
Reed Bunting x 2
Brambling x 2 - The pair were both seen in front of the Whitley Hide on the feeding tables. It had been noted today that numbers are significantly lower than last year. In fact, a total of 12 Brambling were observed on the 22nd March 2017.
Kestrel x 1
Red Kite x 2 - A pair were observed in front of the Johnson hide, flying high above the wooded area. They then continued to mob a single Buzzard before moving on to the field alongside the visitor centre.
Buzzard x 2
Common (Mealy) Redpoll x 2 - On the niger seed feeders by the Volunteers' Hide.
Nuthatch x 1
Water Rail x 1 - Hiding amongst the reeds in front of the Whitley Hide, throughout the afternoon.
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 2 - Seen gathering food from the feeders in front of the Woodland and Whitley Hide. The male seen gathering in front of the Woodland Hide, was rather ingeniously using the hole in a branch of a tree to secure the seed whilst cracking the shell.
Long-tailed Tit x 2
Moorhen x 1
Wren x 4

Water Vole x 1 - A brief sighting as it jumped into the water, from the bank of the River Wensum. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (3rd February 2018)

It was cold and damp Saturday afternoon when we started our warden duties at around 12.30pm.

Bittern - Photograph by Mike Lambert

Despite our best efforts, there was no sign of the Bittern that had been photographed by Mike Lambert on the 30th January. It was then seen twice more on the 31st, including along the edge of the recently cleaned out Bittern Drain, beside the River Path Boardwalk.

The following was seen throughout the afternoon, until 4.00pm:
Chaffinch x 19
Bullfinch x 5
Marsh Tit x 3
Buzzard x 1
Mute Swan x 1
Reed Bunting x 1 - A single male moving around the reeds, just in front of the Whitley Hide.
Brambling x 2 - A vibrantly coloured male was visible on the feeding table, to the right of the Whitley Hide.
Kestrel x 1
Goldfinch x 5 - There were significantly lower numbers than on our previous visits but they were still taking advantage of the niger seed feeders, just outside the Volunteers' Hide window.
Common (Mealy) Redpoll x 1 - A single bird on the feeders by Volunteers' Hide. There were reports of an Arctic Redpoll on the 27th and 28th January, but after careful analysis of photographs it has since been suggested that it was in fact a very light Mealy Redpoll.
Lesser Redpoll x 1
Coal Tit x 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 3 - Several individuals were drumming around the reserve, trying to attract a mate, with at least two making plenty of noise near the Water Vole Bridge.
Wren x 2
Dunnock x1
Moorhen x 1

Muntjac Deer x 3 - An unusually high number of deer across the reserve. One individual was moving around just in front of the Whitley Hide, by the edge of the water.

It was pleasing to see the Snowdrops, obviously enjoying the shade from the trees, alongside the boardwalk between the Woodland Hide and Water Vole Bridge.

Also, Scarlet Elf Cup fungus, one of the iconic species to Sculthorpe Moor, could be seen at various locations across the reserve. The bright red cups of the fruiting bodies grow on decaying willow and are already visible in good numbers beside the boardwalks. Some years are better than others and over time the fungus seems to have spread to different areas.

Snowdrops, seen near the Woodland Hide.

Scarlet Elf Cup fungus, seen near the Water Vole Bridge.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (23rd December 2017)

Despite the reserve being open to the public, the visitor centre itself was actually closed. It was possibly because of this that there were so few people around the reserve.

We arrived at around 12.00pm, for the afternoon shift, and were surprised by just how mild the weather seemed to be. In fact, the temperatures remained constant at around 10°C throughout the rest of the day.

The following was seen between our arrival and 3.00pm:
Marsh Tit x 2
Coal Tit x 4
Chaffinch x 15
Wren x 3 - One individual was observed feeding from the surface of the water, just in front of the Whitley Hide. It achieved this by clinging to the bottom of the reeds and moving around the edge of the water.
Greenfinch x 2
Long-tailed Tit x 4
Nuthatch x 2
Water Rail x 1 - A single bird was seen beneath the feeding table on the right hand side, as viewed from the Whitley Hide. After checking the sightings book, it had been seen on numerous occasions over the previous days. 

The view from Whitley Hide.

Buzzard x 2
Bullfinch x 4 - The majority of sightings were male, which appears to tally with the sightings of other volunteer wardens throughout December. 
Goldfinch x 100+ - It was difficult to estimate numbers, but there was certainly a large flock moving around the Volunteers' Hide. They remained within this area and this was possibly because of the niger seed feeders situated outside the hide. At least 25 individuals could be observed using the feeders at any given time. 
Siskin x 2 - They appeared to be part of the flock and were taking advantage of the same niger seed feeders. In fact, the the Goldfinch appeared to be quite tolerant of their presence.
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1 - A single male seen at the edge of Oak Fen. 
Kestrel x 1
Jay x 1

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sightings at Cley Marshes (5th November 2017)

Despite there being plenty of sunshine on the north Norfolk coast, temperatures struggled to exceed 8°C throughout the morning.

The following was seen since 9.00am:
Little Egret x 2
Stonechat x 2 - The pair were seen close to the Visitor Centre and Coast Road. They have been seen at the same location in recent years. 
Marsh Harrier x 2 - The pair were circling on the northern edge of Pat's Pool throughout the morning. At one point a male landed on one of the scrapes (see image below). 

Marsh Harrier on one of the Pat's Pool scrapes.
Pintail x 1 - A single bird sitting with a large number of Wigeon on Simmonds' Scrape.
Goldfinch x 4
Buzzard x 1
Grey Phalarope x 1 - It landed briefly in front of the hide on Whitwell Scrape and then proceeded to fly around the water for a couple of minutes. Also seen by other birders at Walsey Hills and near the East Bank. 
Dunlin x 12
Knot x 1 - A single bird seen with the Dunlin, on the edge of Simmonds' Scrape.
Sanderling x 1 - Again, a lone bird seen on the northern side of Simmonds' Scrape with 3 Ruff. 

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (21st October 2017)

The weather was surprisingly warm given that it was late October, with temperatures typically around 13°C. It was also good to see a significant increase in bird activity compared to our previous visit in September.

The following was seen since 8.00am:
Tawny Owl x 1 - There were excellent views by Whitley Hide, as the adult was perched in the entrance to the owl box throughout the morning. 
Goldfinch x c100 - A large flock, possibly in excess of 100 birds, was continually moving around the reserve. Some people had reported seeing a few Siskin hidden among the finches. 
Chaffinch x 7
Buzzard x 3
Red Kite x 1 - Seen briefly above the scrape, in front of the Tower Hide. 
Jay x 1
Nuthatch x 2
Sparrowhawk x 1 - Viewed on two separate occasions, flying above Oak Fen. 
Goldcrest x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 5
Coal Tit x 1
Marsh Tit x 2

Despite our best efforts we unable to see any Brambling, despite reports of a pair being seen on the feeders just outside the Tower Hide. Usually there would be significantly higher numbers at this time of year, but with the unusually warm weather it's perhaps not all that surprising.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Sightings at Cley Marshes (24th September 2017)

It was surprisingly warm with temperatures easily reaching 19°C by midday. There was also an easterly wind with speeds rising to around 12mph.

We arrived at the East Bank car park at around 9.12am and proceeded to walk to the beach, to carry out a seawatch. We then made our way back to the visitor centre and after having some lunch, spent the afternoon in Daukes Hide. 

The following was seen from 9.12am until 2.00pm:
Gannet x 9 - A mixture of adult and juvenile birds were diving for food along Cley beach.
Brent Goose x 34
Little Egret x 3
Manx Shearwater x 2 - The pair of birds were again seen from Cley beach and flew west towards Blakeney. 
Wheater x 1 - A single bird seen perched on the sand ridge, just north of Arnold's Marsh. 
Meadow Pipit x 2 - One individual was seen close to the Wheater on the same ridge.
Curlew x 1
Kestrel x 2
Buzzard x 1
Ruff x 13 - The majority were seen on Simmonds' Scrape with some in the process of moulting, displaying a large amount of white feathers on the head and neck.
Dunlin x 6 - All were seen on Simmonds' Scrape.
White-front Goose x 1 - A single bird seen hidden among a flock of Greylags. It then proceeded to fly away with the rest of the flock. 
Little Stint x 5 - All were seen on Simmonds' Scrape.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (17th September 2017)

Another quiet day at Sculthorpe Moor with a mixture of sunshine and rain throughout the morning.

The following birds were seen from 8.00am:
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1
Kingfisher x 1 - At least one individual seen regularly flying around the reserve, using the the dyke (next to Oak Fen) as a passageway. As was the case last week, it then continued to feed in front of Whitley Hide. It was hovering for long periods of time and diving into the water.
Nuthatch x 2
Bullfinch x 1
Coal Tit x 1
Kestrel x 1
Jay x 5
Buzzard x 4
Greenfinch x 4
Goldcrest x 1