You have to now imagine me singing the theme tune to the classic James Bond film - for those of you who don't know me it is not a pretty sight or sound!!
Getting back to the theme of this blog, we have had a Siberian visitor for the last couple of days. On Sunday afternoon, a Bewick's swan turned up of the fresh marsh before moving to the recently harvested sugarbeet field at the end of the carpark. The bird was still present today and happy feeding with the resident greylag and Egyptian geese.
Both species of 'wild swan' (Bewick's and whooper) are scarce visitors to the reserve but they do winter in the UK in large numbers. Both species spend the winter on the Ouse Washes and can often be seen in the autumn arriving in small groups off the sea. In flight, both species are difficult to tell apart but if you get a good view of a bird on the ground they are a bit easier. If you look at the shape of the yellow on the bill you can tell the two species apart. On a whooper swan, the yellow is pointed and on a Bewick's it is rounded.
Two shots of the Bewick's swan (above) today and an adult whooper (below) that spent some time with the mute swans for over a month this winter.
Many of the swans will be thinking about their return migration to the breeding grounds. The whoopers only have the short journey up to Iceland but the Bewick's are heading all the way east to the Taimyr peninsula in Arctic Russia, hence the blog title!
The winter reed cutting programme at Titchwell Marsh was completed this week. Each year, small areas of reed are cut on a rotation basis to ensure that the reedbed remains healthy and able to support a diversity of wildlife. This is an important aspect of the intensive habitat management work, which occurs on the reserve throughout the winter because it improves feeding opportunities for reedbed specialists such as bittern, bearded tit and water vole. Much of the reedbed management work over the past few years would not have been possible without the financial support from SITA.
A large section of reedbed has been opened up to the east of the west bank path. The cutting of reed and removal of litter accumulation will allow freshwater fish to move freely from the inter-connecting ditches into this newly created area, providing feeding opportunities for bittern. We are hoping this will give visitors’ some fantastic views and excellent photographic opportunities of bittern throughout the coming months.
Strip cutting in a dry area of reedbed was the last of the work to be completed. Cutting a series of strips into the reedbed increases the number of edges where bearded tit search for invertebrates. After the area was cut, a work party helped us do the hard work of burning all the material.
With a weather forecast showing a mild and dry night, I decided to dust off the moth trap for the first trapping session of the year. This early in the season my expectation were not very high but I was pleasently surprised with the selection.
Spring usher (1), march moth (3), chestnut (1), dotted border (2), engrailed (1) and a single early moth were recorded.
Normally it is my bad luck to be away from the reserve when a good bird in on the scene. Unfortunatly for Rob and Dave they were in Norwich and I was sat in the office when Ray called to say that he had a probable rough-legged buzzard moving east along the dunes. I headed out for a 'quick break' and picked up the bird being mobbed by a marsh harrier and a crow. The bird was low down over the dunes to start with and may have just come off the sea. It quickly gained height and moved off quickly east. It's the way it goes sometimes!
There have been a few signs that Spring is not too far away this week. On Wednesday we had a sudden arrival of avocets with 80 on the fresh marsh. Most of them have now moved off but there were still 20 today. A song thrush has been in full song in the trees around the visitor centre for the last few days.The twite flock continues to show well and we have had some interesting colour ring sightings (more on this to follow shortly) and two water pipits are still present. 3 barn owls were hunting together over the edge of the saltmarsh this afternoon and the Northern harrier seems to showing even better from the main path. Today is has been sitting for long periods on the saltmarsh only 200m from the path.