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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (16th June 2018)

The warm weather continued at Sculthorpe Moor, with temperatures remaining at around 18°C.

Now that we're well into June, the nesting activity of most birds has reached the fledgling stage. This included the single Tawny Owl chick, in the nest box behind the Forest School, which has now vacated the nest. 

However, the Marsh Harriers are continuing to feed their four young, with the parents making sporadic flights away from the nest. The young will be at an advanced stage of development by now and should be fledgling any time soon.

Early bumblebee sitting on a Foxglove flower.

Common Lizard on the edge of the boardwalk.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Buzzard x 2
Bullfinch x 2
Red Kite x 1
Greenfinch x 3
Dunnock x 1
Reed Warbler x 4 - Plenty of nesting activity across the reserve. One individual was seen regularly visiting a nest immediately in front of the Johnson hide. 
Jay x 2
Lapwing x 1
Swift x 3
Reed Bunting x 2
Canada Goose x 1
Greylag Goose x 1
Common Tern x 1 - It's likely to be the same bird that was seen during our previous visit. It continued to make plunging dives into the water, in front of the Whitley Hide.
Goldfinch x 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 2
Marsh Harrier x 1 - The female was seen flying low over the reed bed at around 3.45pm. The male had been seen earlier in the day.

There were good views of a Water Vole, sitting on some broken reeds, in the middle of Bittern Drain. Also, there were numerous Red Admirals flying across the reserve. 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (28th May 2018)

The warm weathered continued on the bank holiday Monday, with temperatures remaining at around 20°C.

With the continuation of the warm weather, there were plenty of developments across the reserve, since our previous visit. The Tawny Owl chick, near the Forest School, is still continuing to receive plenty of food and should leave the nest box any day now.

Whilst another Tawny Owl chick has been seen by plenty of people, since it fledged a nest near the Whitley Hide. For the second year in a row now, the female parent of that chick has chosen to nest in a dead tree rather than the nearby Whitley nest box.

The Mute Swan nest, on the approach to the Johnson Hide, has now been vacated with two infertile eggs left behind. However, the latest reports suggest that there are four cygnets on the river, with the parents close-by.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Greenfinch x 1
Buzzard x 3
Tufted Duck x 1
Little Grebe x 2
Marsh Harrier x 2 - The pair were on show close to the Whitley Hide, with the female not flying far from the nest at around 3.20pm. All four chicks appear to be doing well.

The Marsh Harrier chicks in the nest. Photo taken by staff at Sculthorpe Moor. 
Reed Bunting x 2
House Martin x 5 - The first sightings for this year, but unfortunately no sign of the Sand Martins.
Kestrel x 1
Swallow x 2
Reed Warbler x 6
Marsh Tit x 1
Bullfinch x 1
Blackcap x 1

Monday, 14 May 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (12th May 2018)

It was a warm day at Sculthorpe Moor, with some light rain in the afternoon.

There continued to be signs of spring across the reserve, with the Tawny Owls continuing to raise only the one chick now. Unfortunately, despite the two adults incubating the five eggs initially, only one egg managed to hatch successfully.

It appears that the adult Tawny Owls have been feeding the chick quite a varied diet, including a Mallard duckling, a Mole and what looked like a Moorhen chick.

Also, a pair of Treecreepers were building a nest, behind some tree bark, on the approach to the Volunteers' Hide. A photo of which was taken by Robert Grenfell and can be seen on his Twitter page (https://twitter.com/Grenfy).

Finally, there are reports of a pair of Barn Owls in the box near the Jarvis Hide, which will hopefully breed soon, and the Mute Swans are continuing to incubate 6-7 eggs near the Johnson Hide.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Swallow x 2
Bullfinch x 5
Willow Warbler x 1 - Appeared in the trees, alongside the track from the Visitor Centre.
Greenfinch x 1
Canada Goose x 3
Lapwing x 2
Sedge Warbler x 1 - Several heard throughout the afternoon.
Nuthatch x 1
Reed Bunting x 4
Marsh Tit x 1
Grey Wagtail x 1 - Walking up and down the mud, immediately in front of the Johnson hide.
Mistle Thrush x 1 - Seen from a distance, in front of the shelter, near Victor's Hide. Possibly the same bird that was only seen on the 25th March.
Jay x 1
Cuckoo x 2 - At least two birds were heard during the afternoon, with one sighting near the Johnson Hide.
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1
Grey Heron x 2
Reed Warbler x 1 - One very good sighting, but several more were heard throughout the day.

At least one Marsh Harrier was seen by the public, as the pair obviously continue with their nest building. Also, one visitor managed to get an excellent photo of a Weasel, as it was seen near Old Gits Corner.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (21st April 2018)

It was easily the warmest day at Sculthorpe Moor this year, with temperatures reaching around 19°C.

In addition to the warm weather, there were signs of spring across the reserve, including the first Cuckoo sightings of the season. The first was seen perched in a tree in the middle of Oak Fen, just above the Kestrel box. Whilst a second was seen, from Victor's Hide, sitting on a wire at the back of the reedbeds. This is coincidentally the same location that the first Cuckoo was seen last year, on the 23rd April. 

The reserve's youngest warden taking photos.


The following was seen from 12.30pm:
Sparrowhawk x 1
Bullfinch x 6
Buzzard x 3
Greenfinch x 1
Reed Bunting x 4
Little Grebe x 2
Lapwing x 3
Kestrel x 1
Goldfinch x 1
Cuckoo x 2 - As previously mentioned, the first sightings of the year and within 2 days of last year's sightings. 
Reed Warbler x 3 - At least three birds were seen, but several more could be heard calling on the approach to the Johnson Hide. 
Canada Goose x 1
Water Vole x 1 - It was seen swimming along the Bittern Drain, not long after the sighting of a young otter. 

Also, the warm weather resulted in large numbers of butterflies across the reserve, including Brimstone, Peacock and Small White.


Mute Swan sitting on its nest, on the approach to the Johnson Hide.

The previously reported activities of the Tawny Owls, continued without any new developments as the 'pair' of adults are continuing to incubate their five eggs. After discussing the behaviour with someone from a local charity who cares for injured birds of prey, they stated that they may be incubating the eggs because one adult would be unable to effectively cover so many eggs.

Finally, there have been reports of a male and two female Marsh Harriers visiting the reserve in recent days. This was then followed by sightings around the 10th April of a pair mating and carrying nesting material into the reeds. If this continues and they breed, it will be in the first time in three years that we'll have a pair nesting on the reserve. It was in 2015 that Mrs H, the reserve's long term resident female, mysteriously disappeared and a different female raised a couple of young in the reed at the back of The Scrape

Monday, 2 April 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (31st March 2018)

It was a cold and wet afternoon at Sculthorpe Moor. Throughout our time there, it continuously rained and made for an unpleasant end to the day.

On a more positive note, the nest box near the forest school contained not one but two adult Tawny Owls. I had previously reported that there was a clutch of 2-3 eggs, but in fact the box contained 5 eggs in total (laid between the 17th and 26th of March).

It was unusual to see this number of eggs for a Tawny Owl and that the box was occupied by two adults. It is unclear if the adults are a pair or if they happen to be two females. In either case, its curious behaviour and it will be interesting to observe the young, as they develop over the coming weeks.

Also, there was an adult Tawny Owl active in the nest box near the Whitley Hide. It was likely that this was one of the adults that used the box last year, but as yet no eggs can be seen in the box.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Coal Tit x 3
Bullfinch x 5
Marsh Tit x 2
Nuthatch x 1
Reed Bunting x 3
Little Grebe x 2
Lesser Redpoll x 2
Brambling x 2 - Still a couple of birds present despite it being nearly April. After some some additional research online, I did read that some stragglers may remain into April and early May.
Long-tailed Tit x 5
Grey Heron x 1
Mute Swan x 2 - Despite the rising water levels on the River Wensum, one adult was continuing to build the nest near the Johnson Hide, whilst the second adult was actually sat on the nest.
Treecreeper x 1
Goldfinch x 1

Muntjac Deer x 2

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (24th March 2018)

The weather at Sculthorpe was considerably more pleasant than it was a week ago. With plenty of activity across the reserve, it was readily apparent that the majority of birds were busy preparing for the breeding season.

This included an adult Tawny Owl, which could be seen on the reserve cameras, occupying the nest box near the forest school. It was incubating 2-3 eggs and it was unclear if this bird was related to the brood that was near the Whitley Hide, from the previous spring.

The following was seen since 12.00pm:
Bullfinch x 2
Marsh Tit x 3
Greenfinch x 2
Coal Tit x 2
Long-tailed Tit x 4
Water Rail x 2 - The usual bird was seen in front of the Whitley Hide, whilst a second was moving through the reeds alongside the River Wensum.
Little Egret x 1
Reed Bunting x 9 - There was a noticeable increase in numbers this week, especially among the reeds near the Johnson Hide.
Little Grebe x 2
Mute Swan x 3 - A pair were building a nest in the reeds on the approach to the Johnson Hide, on the right-hand side of the boardwalk.
Barn Owl x 1 - A single bird perched in the tree, close to the shelter. It didn't appear to be as active as last Sunday afternoon but did fly close to the River Wensum on at least one occasion.
Brambling x 4 - A surprisingly high number of sightings, given that they had not been seen on our previous two visits.
Mistle Thrush x 1 - A single bird moving around the grass area, in front of the shelter, close to Victor's Hide.
Lesser Redpoll x 7 - All seen on the niger feeders by the Volunteers' Hide. There was no sign of the Mealy Redpoll, but they had been reported by other visitors.
Siskin x 1
Goldfinch x 2
Nuthatch x 1
Lapwing x 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1
Oystercatcher x 2

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (18th March 2018)

After the heavy snowfall on the Saturday night, I decided to spend a couple of hours at Sculthorpe Moor. The temperatures were very low, dropping down to -2°C, and with the strong winds it felt considerably colder.

View from Whitley Hide

View from boardwalk towards to Dry Wood


The birds were obviously struggling with the cold and there was an abundance of them using the feeders across the reserve, especially near the Volunteers' Hide.

Despite waiting for around 45 minutes at Victor's Hide, there was no sign of the Bittern at the back of the Scrape. It had been seen on both the Thursday and Friday, catching frogs on the small pond in front of the trees.

The following was seen since 10.30am:
Long-tailed Tit x 4
Water Rail x 2 - The usual sighting in front of the Whitley Hide, whilst a second was seen along the dyke near Oak Fen.
Kingfisher x 1
Goldfinch x 20
Lesser Redpoll x 4 - All seen on the niger seed feeders outside the Volunteers' Hide.
Mealy Repdoll x 5 - Some were seen with the Goldfinch flock, whilst the rest were seen on the same feeders, outside the Volunteers' Hide.
Siskin x 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1
Coal Tit x 1
Bullfinch x 7
Buzzard x 2
Grey Heron x 2
Barn Owl x 2 - The pair that have taken up residence in the shelter, were actively hunting across the Scrape and over Oak Fen. This went on for a prolonged period of time and they appeared unperturbed by the public watching them close-by. 
Snipe x 5 - Four birds were flushed out on Oak Fen by one of the Barn Owls and they proceeded to fly north.
Reed Bunting x 3
Song Thrush x 1