The first village swifts arrived in the village yesterday with seven birds soaring and occasionally screaming in a seemingly endless loop over the village Hall. Their arrival was replicated on my twitter feed with sightings across the UK. This time of year sees a huge influx of birds including the occasionally huge bird with a giant white-tailed sea eagle dropping in at near by Buckenham marshes midweek.
After recent success in getting the most migration magic out of the local area I headed down to Marlingford to check out my WEBS site. The scrub was full of song from locals and summer visitors including singing Robins, linnets, chiffchaff, willow warbler, lesser whitethroat, blackcap and a first of the year with the delicate sound of a garden warbler who popped out to show himself but too briefly for a photo opportunity.
The next part of my walk to get to migrant central the lakes took me through a small patch of oak woodland which was surprisingly bird free and then I saw something which my brain could work out at first. I saw a huge pine cone hanging from a low oak branch about 10 foot up in the air. As my brain scrabbled to process what it was looking at it dawned on me what it was. Fortunately I had my 300mm lens on the camera as this wasn’t something I wanted to get too close to.
Having steered a wide birth round the slowly pulsating mass of bees out looking for a new home I headed down to the waterside. Last weeks swallows and house-martins had gone but there were travelling visitors a plenty in amongst the local ducks, geese and waterbirds. There were several little ringed plovers, a common sandpiper a pair of oyster catchers and a pair of lapwing and then I spotted another wader but an unexpected one. Picking insects off a low gravel island was a grey plover in full breeding plumage a spectacular little fellow clearly designed by someone with exquisite taste and a first for the site in over a decade of observations.
My webs survey was not the only one with surprises this week I also carried out a Breeding Bird survey at nearby Wicklewood which also had a few surprises in store. The first was the thriving colony of house sparrows which did their best to oblige for a quick photo.
The sparrows are well fed by kind locals and were accompanied by a host of other birds including blackbirds, starlings, collared doves, a chaffinch and some portly wood pigeons. Running about amongst them were some I guess less welcome guests.
Leaving the rats and civilization behind I headed towards the arable parts of my survey area and was treated to the rich sound of displaying skylarks and scared a couple of red legged partridges. The partridges flew off low and next to a sign which suggested I wasn’t welcome I noticed something sitting on top , like an angry resident.
I wound my way down country lanes to the continuing sound of skylarks but the breeze had started to pick up and may have kept the rest of the residents quiet, certainly yellowhammers were missing in numbers and the only warbler to call was a chiffchaff until I reached the end of my last section which ends at Wicklewood mere a swampy area of land which produced a variety of birds including sedge warbler and a piping call from overhead that belonged to an oystercatcher which was another new bird and one which is becoming regular over the village and in areas which I have not seen them before.
Having completed my two surveys and shared special moments with nature whilst carrying out ‘citizen science’ I had a look at the latest camera captures which had been taken by a nearby pond. The camera had caught very little before a passing critter had knocked it over probably a rabbit. Below is the surviving video which captures the dawn chorus nicely if little else
In approximate order after the take off of a grey Heron; background singing throughout Blackbird, interrupted by the staccato call of a lesser whitethroat, then linnet singing, pheasant, and chiffchaff. I think that’s it but please comment if you pick out any others.
The keen eyed amongst you will have picked out the creature moving in the video just to the left of the water and I think it is probably a mallard so leave you with the next generation of this local which is popping up all over the place.