Monday, 26 August 2013

25th of August: Flippin' heck, another Wryneck

The birdwatchers' year on Blakeney Point is dominated by migration. To witness a large fall of migrants is a most rewarding experience for those who see it, this however is a rare event. This weekend a wide range and good numbers of birds were seen. The suaeda and brambles were literally dripping with birds. Through social media and rare bird reporting services, word spread and several visitors were able to enjoy a memorable visit to Blakeney Point.

Saturday saw a Booted Warbler, Icterine Warbler, 3 Wrynecks, 20 Pied Flycatchers and 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a good haul but nothing compared to the next day. On Sunday 15 Wrynecks were present - to see just one of these cryptic creatures will put a smile on most birders' faces for the day. Also seen were 3 Icterine Warblers, 10 Tree Pipits, 60 Common Redstarts, 15 Whinchats, 75 Willow Warblers, 60 Pied Flycatchers, 20 Spotted Flycatchers, 40 Wheatears, 3 Dotterels and a Common Rosefinch. A truly spectacular and memorable couple of days.

Wryneck (photographed by Richard Porter)

 Pied Flycatcher

 Common Redstart

 Spotted Flycatcher

Willow Warbler

Booted Warbler (photographed by Richard Porter)

Recent low tide seal counts include 520 Grey and 128 Common on the 23rd, 555 Grey and 232 Common on the 25th, and 598 Grey and 298 Common today.

Migrations was also evident among the butterflies, with three Clouded Yellows being seen in the last three days as well as Painted Ladies and Silver Y moths observed in good numbers.

Clouded Yellow (photographed by Richard Porter)

Now that the breeding bird season has ended, there is wider access on the Point and the dog restrictions have been lifted until next April. Please do keep dogs on leads however, as this limits disturbance to roosting birds on the beach at high tide.

- Paul and Ajay (with photos by Matt)

Sunday, 11 August 2013

11th of August: Paranormal on the Point

Paranormal activity on the Point... After an intense meteor shower on Saturday night, a bright light was seen hovering over the lifeboat house. Shortly afterwards we were visited by these three otherworldly beings. They spoke no words but communicated with us by telepathy. Their message was clear: "we love the blog, keep up the good work".

Change is constant on Blakeney Point. The beach and saltmarsh change everyday with the tides. Amongst the shifting sands stands something solid: a sign. The photograph below was taken last spring.
This same view today shows how, in a short space of time, embryo dunes have started to form around the sign, being stabilised by Marram grass. Paul is in fact the same height as Graham!

As well as numerous changes to the shape, length and vegetation of the Point, certain views have changed little over the years. The below photograph was taken in the 1920s. The boat visible in the distance is more than likely the houseboat on which Bob Pinchen (the first National Trust Watcher) lived with his family.
Around 90 years later, it was easy to find the same dune, and the view is very similar.
The two huts remain, although heavily renovated over the years, and the Laboratory is 100 years old, now shadowed by a rather large clump of Tamarisk. 

We are delighted to report that we have had our first ringed Sandwich Tern sighting. On Thursday, 50 days after being ringed as a chick on the Point, 'KCC' was spotted at Caperduin, de Putton on the Dutch coast, having travelled 251km east. The bird looked to be healthy. It is fascinating to be learning so much more about the Sandwich Terns that were born here on Blakeney Point.

Amongst our recent wildlife sightings was this Short-winged Conehead - a bush cricket. Bird sightings over the past couple of days included Common and Green Sandpipers, Greenshank and Yellow Wagtails.

This afternoon's low tide seal count on the West Sands totalled an impressive 932 Grey and 309 Common.

This week's Sunday evening blog post was written by Paul and Ajay, with photography by Darren Lennard, Ajay and Matt.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

8th of August: Caught in a net

You never know what's going to happen next when you are a ranger on Blakeney Point. Our latest task was a crab rescue. A mass of tangled fine netting was found on the tide-line, trapped inside were 216 live crabs. Freeing them was a painstaking exercise... and 'pain' was indeed the word as we experienced frequent nips to the fingers.
The crabs were stored in seawater and then released at high tide.

Over the past few days we have seen several dragonflies and damselflies on the Point. The first was a male Banded Demoiselle on the 25th of July, followed by another on the 26th. On the 28th, this Common Blue Damselfly was photographed on the Point by Nicola Beard.

Matt captured this Migrant Hawker on a Suaeda bush on the 1st of August.

A recent moth trap caught this rather splendid moth, a Garden Tiger.

Whilst conducting survey work amongst the sand dunes, we stumbled upon this brightly-coloured Vapourer moth caterpillar.

The Point is also alive with butterflies. A recent count of Small Coppers (below) totaled 145.

Notable recent bird sightings include juvenile Spoonbill, Long-eared Owl and juvenile Stonechat. We have also discovered two new Swallow nests in the past week (second clutches), including one on the side of the Old Lifeboat House. How many Swallows can you count in the photograph below?
(Swallow with mud for nest-building)

George captured this time-lapse footage from the look-out tower:

In other news, last week Ajay was interviewed by Sir Tony Robinson for an episode of 'Walking Through History', which will be broadcast towards the end of the year.

A recent low tide seal count - conducted on the 28th of July - recorded an impressive 887 Grey and 208 Common.

We continue to spend time watching terns. Although most have now fledged, there are still a couple of Little Tern chicks near the Watch House, which we hope will successfully fledge over the next few days.

- Ajay and Paul
(Photos: Nicola Beard, Matt, Ajay)