Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (23rd April 2017)

It was my first day volunteering as a warden at Sculthorpe Moor and it was fantastic to see such a variety of raptors on display. The weather was also pleasant, with temperatures gradually rising to 12°C, and there was a light breeze throughout the morning.

Map of Sculthorpe Moor.

The following was seen since 8.30am:

White-tailed Eagle x 1 - A distant sighting (at 12.15pm) as it was flying above the wooded area on the eastern side of the reserve. It then drifted towards Fakenham and did not appear again.
Nuthatch x 1
Buzzard x 6 - All seen as they mobbed the White-tailed Eagle. They then returned to the reserve after it had been driven-away.
Kestrel x 1 - Hovering close to Victor's Hide, late morning.
Sedge Warbler x 3 - All seen along the River Wensum and a lot more were heard throughout the morning.
Little Egret x 1
Reed Bunting x 3
Marsh Harrier x 1 - A female seen flying along the River Wensum in a westerly direction.
Sparrowhawk x 1 - It was seen from a distance on the eastern side of the reserve, flying in a northerly direction.
Cuckoo x 1 - It was seen opposite Victor's Hide, perched along the telephone lines at the back of the fen.
Kingfisher x 1
Grey Heron x 1

Butterflies and Mammals
Water Vole x 1 - At least one was seen along the dyke. It also appeared quite tolerate of us being there as it sat only a foot away from us.
Orange Tip x 2
Peacock x 1

Monday, 17 April 2017

Sightings at Hickling Broad (17th April 2017)

It was our first visit to Hickling Broad and it easily met our expectations. The management of the reserve is exceptional and I can now see why it enjoys such an excellent reputation.

The approach to Cadbury Hide.

The weather was slightly warmer than expected, forecasts predicted temperatures of around 8°C, but the large amount of cloud cover did cause temperatures to drop sporadically.

The following was seen since our arrival at 9.10am:

Blackcap x 1
Chiffchaff x 3 - One individual was seen building a nest alongside the path near Deary's Pool.
Little Egret x 2
Snipe x 1 - It appeared momentarily, directly opposite the Cadbury Hide, but then disappeared from view.
Willow Warbler x 1 - Several were heard throughout the morning but the only individual seen was close to the Cadbury Hide.
Bearded Tit x 1 - A single male seen briefly flying above the reeds, on the right hand side, as we walked away from Secker's Hide.
Scaup x 3 - A single male accompanied by two females, seen from the first view point.
Great Crested Grebe x 4
Grey Heron x 1
Sedge Warbler x 2 - The two individuals were both seen close to the Observation Hut.

One of the Sedge Warblers seen close to the Observation Hut.

Wren x 2
Kestrel x 1 - It was first seen hovering close to the Observation Hut, then directly opposite the Cadbury Hide in the early afternoon.
Crane x 5 - They were all seen flying towards Bygrave's Marsh, but then headed in a north easterly direction.
Marsh Harrier x 1
Pied Wagtail x 2

The following butterflies were seen during our visit, but no sign of the Swallowtail (unfortunately):

Speckled Wood x 2
Small White x 4
Holy Blue x 1

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sightings at Rush Meadow near Scarning (16th April 2017)

I decided to have a quick walk down to Rush Meadow, near Scarning, at 7.10am and take a look at my local patch.

A view of Rush Meadow from the pathway, alongside the stream.

The weather forecast stated that it would be around 8°C, but with the spring sun and very little cloud, it felt considerably warmer. As a result, the following was seen throughout the morning:

Goldfinch x 4
Greenfinch x 2
Blackcap x 3 - A pair were seen together in the woodland, alongside the pathway, on the north eastern corner of the reserve.
Pied Wagtail x 2 - A pair were seen outside the entrance to the sewage works. Significantly lower numbers than had previously been seen here.
Swallow x 7 - All of the birds were perched on a wire suspended above the entrance to the sewage works.
House Martin x 1 - A single bird seen perched with the Swallows. 
Songthrush x 1
Little Egret x 1
Kingfisher x 1 - It was seen flying south along the stream, approaching the sewage works.
Grey Heron x 1
Wren x 2
Jay x 2
Kestrel x 1 - It was seen hovering high above the woodland, then drifted north.

It was also interesting to see that the Norfolk Wildlife Trust had been spending some time on the reserve trying to recover some of the species-rich vegetation, after extensive scrub growth over the years.

According to the WREN website, who are providing funding, they will be carrying out a combination of urgently required restoration work and the development of more sustainable site management practices. 

This would include the:-
  • Restoration of the central dyke and the removal of scrub encroachment
  • Introduction of water-level management
  • Introduction of a sustainable grazing regime

There is also similar work being carried out at Scarning Fen, in an attempt to secure the future condition of these two sites on the Dereham stream corridor. 

Further information can be found here:

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Cyprus: Massacre on Migration

Since my previous post regarding the illegal trapping of birds in Cyprus, Chris Packham has released a short film documenting the extent of the problem in the eastern mediterranean country. 

I would encourage anyone to sign the petition so, at the very least, government will be required to provide some kind of response to this serious issue:

If you wish to take more action than signing a petition, there are a series of suggestions and further information on Chris Packham's own website:

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)

What is The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)?
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The project is managed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and has been going since the late 1940's.

The principal aims of WeBS are to identify the size of non-breeding waterbird populations, determine trends in their numbers and distribution, and assess the importance of individual sites for waterbirds, in line with the requirements of international conservation Conventions and Directives.

Species trends, peak counts and site summary data are accessible to all online, via the WeBS Annual Report; more detailed datasets for research, management, impact assessment and other uses are obtainable via the WeBS data request service.

Lenwade Gravel Pits
As one of the WeBS volunteers, I'm responsible for monitoring all ducks, geese, swans, gulls, and terns at Lenwade Gravel Pits in Norfolk. The site had not been previously surveyed since the 14th March 1971, before it was allocated to me.

The view from the car park with the path that runs parallel to Porter's Lane.

The map below covers the entire area that will be surveyed each month and I will report all the relevant sightings. A significant proportion of the water is under private ownership, by Layfields Lake, which does make surveying the area rather problematic.

Map of the Lenwade Gravel Pits.

Waterbird Populations at Lenwade Gravel Pits in 2017
The following is a breakdown of the variety of species seen at Lenwade since 9th April 2017. 

Black-headed Gull2
Canada Goose9
Grey Heron1
Greylag Goose4
Mute Swan2
Tufted Duck4

Friday, 7 April 2017

Norfolk Bat Survey in Scarning Water Meadows

What is the Norfolk Bat Survey?
The Norfolk Bat Survey was launched by Dr Stuart Newson at the British Trust for Ornithology in April 2013, to improve our understanding of bats and support their conservation. Since this time, the project has analysed over a million bat recordings from across the county.

With the help of volunteers, the project conducts bat surveys across the whole of Norfolk (and in parts of Suffolk), by providing an opportunity for anyone to take advantage of recent advances in technology for automating the capture and analysis of acoustic data for bats.

The sophisticated equipment is placed at three different locations within a 1km square, which is allocated to a volunteer, and it will record any bat calls throughout the consecutive nights.

These recordings are stored on an SD card which then can be accessed through a computer. Then sound analysis software (such as BatScan) can then be used to closely identify individual species. 

Scarning Water Meadows
As part of the project, I'm responsible for monitoring bat activity in Scarning Water Meadows. 

The diagram below represents the specific areas, within Dereham, where the recordings will be taking place. The two red squares, to the left of the image, are where my recordings will be taking place from May to the end of September.

Areas being monitored as part of the Norfolk Bat Survey are highlighted red.

As different species have successfully been identified within Scarning Water Meadows, I'll report the findings (along with uploading the recordings) on this blog.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sightings at Cley Marshes and Walsey Hills NOA (5th April 2017)

Arrived shortly after 9.30am and parked the car at the end of the East Bank.

This time we decided to take a slightly different route around Cley and we walked in an easterly direction along Attenborough Way, towards the Babcock Hide. It was our hope that we would see the Water Pipit that had been reported recently, but sadly this was not the case.

We then crossed the Coast Road and walked west up Walsey Hills and then through the Walsey Hills NOA reserve.  After stopping at the NWT Cley Visitor Centre, we then finished off the day by visiting the main bird hides opposite Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape.

Despite temperatures being around 9°C, it felt considerably warmer. There were also winds from a north westerly direction of around 16-17mph,

Ruff x 3 - A single bird seen opposite the Babcock Hide on Watling Water, whilst the other two were on Simmond's Scrape later in the day.

A Ruff as seen on Simmond's Scrape.

Canada Goose x 4 - All seen from a distance on Pope's Pool shortly after we arrived in the morning.
Little Egret x 3
Oystercatcher x 4
Gadwall x 4 - All seen together on Watling Water.
Pied Wagtail x 2
Redshank x 7
Pochard x 3
Curlew x 4
Avocet x 45 - The majority were seen across Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape.
Skylark x 3 - A pair appeared to be nesting in the field, close to the path, leading to the Babcock Hide.
Little Grebe x 2 - The pair were seen together on Snipe's Marsh on the Walsey Hills NOA reserve.
Black-tailed Godwit x 24 - All seen close together on Simmond's Scrape.

Whilst walking through the Walsey Hills NOA reserve, we also recorded the various butterflies that we happened to come across:

Small Tortoiseshell x 1
Comma x 1
Small White x 5

Comma seen on Walsey Hills NOA.