Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snowed under with work

The weather has been the main talking point over the past few days. It has disrupted the work on the lifeboat house, although as you can see from the image below the contractors have been doing their best in all weathers having to baton down the hatches in a howling blizzard. Their main problem has been getting staff onto the point due to the difficult travelling conditions. 

They are now stripping the old tin off the Lifeboat house and putting in insulation which they will then start to put the new tin sheeting back on, along with rebuilding the observation tower which had previously found to be rotten and beyond repair.

Some of the wildlife has been struggling in the conditions although the last known grey seal pup born on the Point this winter does not fall into this category. It has a good mum who is never far away and the perfect coat for surviving the snow. 

The English partridges mentioned in a previous blog are struggling to find food, a sure sign of this is that we were able to drive to within a few yards of one small covey which were feeding close to the track, see below. Although struggling a bit we are seeing anything up to thirty on an average visit with coveys up to sixteen and as low as three. The best recent count being forty five, which is a significant number these days!

This afternoon ITV Anglia did some filming with John, Property Manager for the Norfolk coast about the lifeboat house refurbishment works. It will be shown at 6pm tonight if the editing is completed on time. Here is a shot of the filming. 

We will post some more photos of the lifeboat house refurb shortly.

Graham, Coastal Ranger

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

16th of January: Snowy Hare today

15th of January 2013: it had snowed overnight but the morning was bright and fresh. We had planned a trip up the Point to look into predator control measures for the coming season. As we passed the Lifeboat House we spotted a Brown Hare sheltering in the lee of a suaeda bush in full sun. Graham was able to photograph it without disturbing it, leaving it basking in the ephemeral sunshine. We then took a walk up Far Point to look for signs of rats around the colony. On the way we saw a Shorelark and a Skylark, some Snow Buntings, a Merlin and some coveys of English Partridges. There were very few Grey Seal pups left on the beach and Far Point and there haven't been any births since around the 7th of January. It seems likely that the pupping season is over for another year and that most seals have now dispursed into the North Sea. Viewers of the BBC's Winter Watch can still catch up with spectacular highlights from the peak of the pupping season by watching the programme, real time or on iplayer.

Right on the end of Far Point the weather started to change and the picture of Graham carrying a dead gull shows how black the sky had become. It was time to turn around, as we were presently in one of the most remote locations in Norfolk and a blizzard was approaching fast over the North Sea. As we walked back down Far Point the snow started, slowly at first but increasing to the point of snow storm by the time we reached shelter. On our way back we took a few more pictures of the Point in the storm.

 As Norfolk people say: 'was gorn on over Hare?'.

 Graham walking away from the approaching storm.

A panorama taken on Victoria's iphone.

The Watch House through the blizzard.

Back to safety. Photo taken down the Point from Cley Coast Guards, after the storm.

- Ed

Monday, 14 January 2013

BBC Winterwatch

BBC Winterwatch will feature the Blakeney Point grey seal colony tonight and over the next few days. It sounds as if there will be some amazing behaviour footage from cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones and his team who spent two weeks following some of the seals back in December.

We will update more with links in the next day or so.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Seal pups, scats, tags and a digger

Here is a quick summary of the various things that happened over the festive period, starting with seals.

The seal pups have virtually just finished with only 6 being born since Boxing Day, bringing the total count to 1220. Most have left the beach and have started to form the normal colony at the tip of the Point. Eddie counted dead pups which numbered 53 meaning that there has been just a 5% mortality rate.

Both seals we took before Christmas to RSPCA East Winch are faring well. Lion King (nasty gash) is still in isolation and Prince Albert despite having a bad eye is progressing well.

On the 4th Graham & Eddie spotted this bull seal adorned with a satellite tag. It was tagged in France last summer and although its the first time we have seen it amongst the hundreds out there, we have since found out it has been here since the 8th December.

Less glamorous, today Eddie & Graham collected seal scat at the request of the Sea Mammal Research Unit based in Scotland. This involves scanning above the high tide mark and when a collection is made, noting the date, grid reference and number. We will be able to provide an update about what the scats contain in March but today we collected 46.

 Any good captions?

Last night the Time Team dig that took place at Branodunum Roman Fort last August was aired on Channel 4. If you missed it here is the link:

Everyone seemed super-impressed by the condition of the site and the amount of finds, and they were really pleased with the geophys that showed buildings we didn't even know were there. There is too much to mention here so do take a look!

Today on Blakeney Freshmarsh our annual ditch clearing work has started to de-silt them to enable water flow. We are working on a 10-year rotation to provide a range of different ditch conditions across the site. As well as clearing the ditches, the digger operator spreads the spoil as evenly as possible to allow our other management e.g. topping to take place. As we share boundaries between the 8 other landowners on Blakeney Freshes we share costs and time it to take place in one go.

 Lots of slubbings coming out of this ditch

Victoria, Countryside Manager

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

1st of January: Happy New Year

The National Trust would like to say a big HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone, and especially those that have followed our blog over the last nine months. We hope that you will continue to have an interest in the things we do along the coast and support (and enjoy) our important conservation work in 2013.

Here are a few photos from our first trip out to Blakeney Point this year:

Fat and Happy (Edward Stubbings)

This pup clearly has a bad hangover after a heavy night at probably the best new years party in the world! (Edward Stubbings)

A dead Porpoise calf found freshly dead on Blakeney Point today (Edward Stubbings)

- Ed