Normally elusive and shy, one of our resident water rails has been parading up and down the ditch that runs along the west side of the main path to the beach. It seems oblivious to visitors walking past just ten feet away. Needless to say the photographers have been filling their boots and their memory cards. Water rails are resident on the reserve and a handful breed in our reedbed.
Most of the time they feed on insects and vegetation but cold weather is known to bring out a darker carnivorous side to their behaviour. I have seen them picking at the dead corpse of a mallard and they have also been known to take live birds....impaling prey on their stiletto-like bill being a favourite option!
Why not go along to the local RSPB group on one of their outdoor or indoor meetings? Indoor meetings are held at South Wootton Village Hall, King’s Lynn, PE30 3LJ commencing at 7.15pm – entry FREE to members, £2.00 to non-members. If you would like more information please ring Neil Stephenson, tel. 01553 828752
Sunday January 22nd 10.00am RSPB Buckenham & Cantley Marshes. Part of the RSPB Mid-Yare Valley reserves and a good place for ducks and geese, including bean. Corvid roost worth a look at dusk. Meet at Buckenham railway station car park TG351057. Facilities at nearby RSPB Strumpshaw Fen.
Wednesday January 25th “A History of Birds Locally” – Fred Cooke. Fred is a biologist and ornithologist who spent much of his working life in Canada. Now retired, he is an active member of the BTO and on the National Council of the RSPB.
My wildlife year at Titchwell has started off with a series of surprises, resulting in 3 new species to add to the Ray's Rambles list, which now stands at 943.
I started with a spotted redshank trying to swallow a three-spined stickleback (new), it gave up after wasting 20 minutes. A few days later I had a repeat performance with a cormorant failing to eat a dab.
A red admiral butterfly and flowering creeping buttercups were most unusual records at this time of the year and daily sightings of one or two chinese water deer have been very popular. So far though it's been our birds that have been the real stars. The long-staying arctic redpoll and the mandarin have now been joined by a pair of red-crested pochard, but best for me was the adult iceland gull (new) that was feeding on the beach. It had the decency to stand next to an adult mediterranean gull!
The most unexpected new bird was a drake chestnut teal, an Australian bird that had obviously escaped from captivity. As usual I've had a lot of assistance from dozens of people, my latest helper was a very young lady who had been collecting shells in her bucket. On top of her collection was a mermaid's purse, the egg case of a blonde ray. Her efforts have raised this years list to 180 species. My interest in nature started when I was seven, by the looks of it I could have started three years earlier! Ray Kimber.
Photo by Andy Thompson
On may way back to the office this morning I came across this male pheasant trying to hide in the short grass. He thought he was doing a good job but he stood out like a sore thumb!
Most of the gamebird species (pheasant, partridges, quails) use a stop and hide technique to protect themselves from predators only taking flight when they are nearly stood on. Once this bird realised he had been ‘clocked’ he stood up and carried on feeding taking no notice of me.
Volunteer marsh is becoming an attractive place for many birds to feed on the mud. It would also appear that even when it’s covered by 1-2m of sea water it’s attractive to some other forms of wildlife. On Thursday I had my first sighting of a common seal which zipped past me at the breach as the tide whipped into the marsh. It was seen briefly from the West bank path, so keep your eyes peeled next time you visit and the Volunteer marsh is full of water.