Yesterday morning saw the spring officially start as we carried out the first of many survey visits. All of our 'key' species are monitored on an annual basis to allow us to assess their populations and how successful (or not!) our management has been. As you can imagine, the next couple of months become very busy with lots of early morning starts. Once you get used to it though, it is the best time of the day to be out.
Our first visit was to look and listen for Cetti's warbler. Thankfully they have a very distinctive, explosive song making them easy to count. Although a species reedbed, they tend to be found nesting along its edges where there is a tangle of brambles or some thick willow scrub for protection. This first survey (our of three) found 3 males in the main reedbed and one just off Gypsy Lane in Church Marsh. Last year we recorded 7 males so it will be interesting to see if the cold weather this winter has affected them.
While 'out and about' there is always time to record other species. Yesterday we had the bittern booming from the reedbed, barn owl and a female hen harrier hunting and three tree sparrows on the feeders. Several small groups of swallow and sand martin were passing through west as well as a group of 7 magpies. They may be common birds but they do migrate.
The first sedge warbler was heard on the reserve yesterday. This is a pretty early record for the reserve with only one other record prior to this date; on the 29th March 2003. The main arrival of these summer visitors usually occurs about mid April. This bird has probably spent the winter just south of the Sahara and will now try to attract a mate with it's rambling rasping rhythms.
you find on the beach!
Our volunteers, Mike and Emma, found what looked like a squid on the beach this morning. After doing some research at home on the Internet, Mike phoned this afternoon to say that he had identified it as an Common Atlantic Squid. I have never heard of one but I am going to check it out now.
It is always worth checking the tideline if you are walking up to Thornham Point as you never know what you may find - several new birds have been added to the British list after being found as a tideline corpse!
There is still three hours of daylight left to find more but here is a taster of what we have had at Titchwell today.
A quiet moment in the Fen hide early this morning gave good views of the water pipit, two snipe and a brief in flight view of the bittern. It was a bit windy for 'booming' but the bittern gave it go even if it was a little half hearted.
Mid-morning seawatching rewarded those who ventured down to the beach with a stunning summer plumaged red-necked grebe, red-throated diver, 3000 common scoter and 21 velvet scoter. A peregrine was seen briefly hunting over the saltmarsh.
Migrants included a single wheatear, sand martin and house martin. Chiff chaff numbers continued to rise with at least five singing around the meadow trail.
Finally around the visitor centre and feeders a single brambling flew over, these have been very scarce this winter. The three tree sparrows continued to be seen through out the day with rumours of a fourth as I type.
With a forecast of northerlies for the start of the week the arrival of more migrants may have to wait until next week, but you never know what turns up unless your out looking for it ,so I'm off to do just that. Bye.
Here are a couple images of yeaterdays' flyover cranes. Thanks to Lawrie Webb for allowing us to publish these shots.
What fantastic birds