Sightings for week ending 05/03/2017

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It’s been a mixed week weather wise and I think that this will carry on into the weekend with Saturday looking good but Sunday turning grim. So if you are getting out, Saturday would be the best bet.

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I have managed to spend a lot of time down at Farlington this week which has been lovely. Thursday was a fantastic day where we worked in the reedbed and I am glad to say that we were absolutely surrounded by Bearded Tits. I waded into the reed to look for a ditch and four were sat in a tall stand. They were pinging around us all day. Unfortunately this does not help you if you wish to see them as my best views have been whilst standing deep within the reed. I have seen them regularly near the feeder by the building and I have tried to keep it stocked with grit. I have also put millet in and the Reed Buntings are often present.They have started singing as well, I had a lovely view of a pair today.

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With some reasonable spring tides the marsh has been alive with birds. Well over a thousand Brent Geese were in the deeps on Tuesday and today they moved onto the top of the north marsh. Wigeon, Lapwing, Teal, Shelduck and Pintail are still in high numbers and today there were a good number of Grey Plover and Dunlin on the deeps.

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I sat at the lake after checking the sluice today and I was graced with a fly past from the Short Eared Owl and then the Peregrine put everything up. Later in the afternoon a Barn Owl floated up and down the eastern sea wall before heading into the bushes. This combined with a Buzzard and a feeding Kestrel made for a good day for predatory birds.

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There was a Kingfisher reported by the deeps today and I saw one at Southmoor this morning, hovering above the inter-tidal area.

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All in all there are still plenty of waders and wildfowl in Farlington but they’ll soon be going so it’s worth getting down for a last look.

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Nails, Rings and a Dagger

We were back at Farlington again today to continue work on the boardwalk, the aim being to complete the job started on Friday. Today’s volunteers were the Beechcroft team and they so nearly got it done, it was only a shortage of nails that stopped them just two boards short! Whilst they were working on the boardwalk I continued topping the fields and mowing the edges of the bramble clumps in the Bushes. Before I started the bramble cutting I went to check if the ringers had caught any waders on the roost along the Stream, I would not have wanted to flush the birds by charging about in the tractor. Luckily they had already caught and very successfully, catching 12 teal, 17 greenshank and 60 redshank. The waders were colour-ringed, this allows field sightings to be made and if the combination is seen well the individual bird can be identified. This allows the movements of an individual to be tracked and also such data as survival and longevity to be studied. All this is important as we still know rather little about many of the waders that visit us, although we do know that populations of most species are falling. Obviously we would like to be able to take action to help them but to do this with affair chance of success we need to know much more about where the problems are.

colour ringed redshank

colour ringed redshank

As I spent most of the day in the tractor cab I saw rather little wildlife, a small group of sand martin along the Stream and a few yellow wagtail with the cattle in the Hayfield were about the highlights. However as I got back to the Building at lunchtime I found a caterpillar on the hedge and very smart it was too, a part grown grey dagger larva.

grey dagger caterpillar

grey dagger caterpillar

They have a most extraordinary “spire” on one of the segments towards the head, it looks a bit like a thorn, but it fleshy, rather than the more usual tuffs of hair that many caterpillars have.