August is traditionally a quieter time for the birds with many asking where their birds have gone. With breeding out of the way many are skulking in a state of moult. Youngsters are staying hidden and there is plenty of natural food so there is no need to attend the feeders with any regularity although some young tits will buck this trend. The first summer visitors in the form of the swifts have left the village in the last week or so and the mellow evenings are no longer filled with their screams. I had hoped to bring tales of my first Norfolk Pelagic this month but an unseasonable set of high winds prevented the trip into the North Sea from the coast of North Norfolk so I cannot regale my readers with tales of albatross, skuas or any other far wandering seabirds.
There are some benefits of the season and the house martins that have stayed local to their breeding spots are now to be seen chattering over different parts of the village before they too soon depart for Africa. Nuthatches can also be heard calling and will start to pop up in gardens where they have been missing from as they spread out for the autumn. Late night runs in the last couple of weeks have started to be punctuated with early calling tawny owls and barking roe deer as their Autumn breeding season grows closer.
Just out of the parish boundaries my WEBS surveys at Marlingford also show the signs of changing season with numbers of Lapwing up to near record at 240. Numbers of gulls and tufted ducks are also up as they start to move to winter quarters. Whilst on my last count I had the company in my hide of a young assistant. This particular assistant was not the most useful in terms of counting support but was amiable company never the less.
My common toad companion presumably a male as he was quite small and with the poison glands quite obvious as bulges behind either eye which are to deter any would be predator. They clearly do the trick as toads have a life expectancy of 40 years notwithstanding road traffic accidents.
Whilst accompanying Mr Toad I was also able to watch the playful soaring flights of a family of buzzards which are starting to become more evident with a calling bird drifting over the village this afternoon. Whilst August may have been a wash out at sea and a bit quite on the home front it did see the acquisition of my first bat detector which I have immediately put to good use around the village as this is peak bat season. My first bats were as expected the common and acrobatic pipistrelles but an early trip down to Hethersett Hall produced the slightly rarer soprano pipistrelle. Maps with sightings and all the other village bats will be appearing soon on the new site page Hethersett’s Bats. Click on the red text to check it out