Four common cranes flew west over the reserve at lunchtime but the big news is of a treecreeper seen from the office window. This is quite a rare bird at Titchwell.....how typical I had to attend a meeting and so missed the bird! Treecreepers, along with another Titchwell rarity the nuthatch are famous for their agility running up, down and along tree trunks but as this image shows it's not only treecreepers that can do the acrobatics.
The sun continues to shine ....personally I am looking forward to a good storm! Even on the sunniest days, there are more subtle signs of autumn ocurrring daily.
The first lesser whitethroat for a while was in the picnic area today along with the now long staying Camberwell beauty and young blackcaps seem to be everywhere!
On the fresh marsh ruff and spotted redshank numbers continue on a slow build with eleven and seven respectively present. The large flock of knot seem to have diminished slightly in the last few days and bar tailed godwit numbers are also on the way down.
The large number of waders using the reserve in the last few weeks have mostly been immature adults which have not attempted to make the long journey north to the breeding grounds. Others such as the cracking adult male ruff present for the last week, have already 'done the business' on the mating grounds leaving the females to get on with rearing the young of the year.
As June turns into July, the southward passage of waders will turn from a trickle into a flood with the first returning juvenile waders not that many weeks away now.
7am, midsummer, bright sunshine, long waders.... Yes, we're surveying the salt marsh passerines again. Emma, almost overcome with hay fever, intrepidly leads the way onto the marsh. I follow, bleary eyed and regretting my decision to skip coffee this morning. Between us, we are hardly capable of speech, never mind the agility required to remain upright while crossing the creeks and mudflats of the lonely, atmospheric salt marsh. We get to the first creek and I fall, literally, at the first hurdle. A graceful but unintentional slide down the muddy bank, a lumbering leap across the water, sinking immediately up to my calves, and overbalancing to leave starry handprints in the smelly black mud.... Emma laughs and sneezes from the bank.
After a few wheel spins on the bank, I extricate myself and we continue. I have dozens more such crossings to look forward to! We have to walk a serpentine transect that aims to cover most of the salt marsh between the west bank and Thornham Point, keeping a sharp eye out for skylarks, linnets, meadow pipit and reed bunting. Unfortunately, this means that we are not looking where we are placing our feet, so our progress tends to be a series of lurches and stumbles punctuated with exclamations of surprise as we step into narrow, deep creeks which are completely hidden by the thick grasses of the salt marsh. It gets hotter and hotter, and the sleepy humidity of the salt marsh is not helping with me to wake up at all. "Bird," I state, rather obviously, pointing. A family of 5 linnets flits past, the male vividly coloured in the morning sun. Linnets remain in the UK year-round, and are seldom seen singly, preferring to keep together in their pairs or family units. The reed bunting are showing as well, although looking rather scruffy now, probably run off their feet looking after young. The ever-present skylarks describe slow, deliberate circles in the sky, their delirious song drifting back down to us below. Occasionally a meadow pipit will shoot upwards and then parachute back down on flexed wings, singing sweetly.
As always, the communities of wildflowers on the salt marsh charm me - the carpets of sea thrift that greeted me last time have more or less finished flowering, but the common sea lavender is budding now, and in one or two places the first delicate tracery of stems hold aloft their fresh mauve sprays. Over towards Thornham Point we find the less common matted sea lavender, a diminutive plant with tough zig-zag stems and tiny, perfect pale lilac flowers. The marsh samphire is growing too, and I sample some, having heard of its culinary worth. Nice flavour, but not advisable when you're gasping for a drink a couple of kilometres out on the blazing salt marsh - too salty! At last the transect is complete and we stumble off the salt marsh, sweltering and thirsty. Emma is exhausted from her ordeal with the pollen, and my hands (and hence binoculars) are encrusted with dry mud. A rather comical picture as we drag ourselves up the west bank path!
Please note that the salt marsh can be a dangerous place for the unwary - don't try this at home!
Shirely Boyle Volunteer warden
Usually I post at the end of the day but can't wait until then as we had a very interesting migrant turn up this morning. The species in question has flown over the North Sea from Scandinavia. There have only been about 2,000 sightings since the first records in 1748. Despite the fact that they tend to migrate in flocks it is not a bird...it is a butterfly, a Camberwell Beauty!
The only other confirmed record for Titchwell Marsh was in 2001 but there tend to be years of 'invasion' where conditions on the continent and over the North Sea are just perfect for the 'flap-flap-glide' flight of these large butterflies.
So why call it the Camberwell Beauty, well that is where the first recorded sightings were. Obviously at the time (1748) Camberwell was still a nice little rural spot rather than an inner London suburb. I must admit I prefer the old name of Grand Surprize (1766) which seemed very appropriate when I was confronted with it in the carpark this morning.
With the weather set to continue like this for the next few days why not get out and find your own interesting insects.