Sunday, 20 April 2014

20th of April: Eggs for Easter

This weekend on Blakeney Point, the Black-headed Gulls have started laying their eggs. The eggs are olive green with black specks and are laid in very lazy attempts at nests; a few strands of vegetation arranged in a circular shape.
 Black-headed Gulls sat on the water at high tide

Amongst the Black-headed Gulls are a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which we presume will go on to breed here.

Too many large gulls can spell bad news for our Sandwich Terns, as they are notorious egg and chick thieves. They like to perch on our signs where they can survey the colony in search of supper.

To help the terns, anti-perching devices have been installed. These sound very high tech, but in fact consist of nothing more than a plastic bottle. We have been busy Blue Peter style, modifying a range of drinks bottles.

Sandwich Terns continue to build in numbers, with around 5,000 now roosting on Far Point.
Sandwich Terns roosting undisturbed

It's not all good news. The Mallard's nest we found in March has since been abandoned. However, had the chicks hatched, they would have faced the gauntlet of getting to safety without being eaten by the numerous gulls nesting around them. Hopefully they have laid a second clutch in a wiser location.

The Pied Wagtail nest on the side of the shed now has five eggs in it. They have not been put off by the change of colour: Lifeboat House blue.

This evening another Meadow Pipit nest was found, this one beside the boardwalk. We urge visitors not to stray from the main paths in order to protect the nests of Meadow Pipits and other passerines breeding in the dunes.

To read a nice piece about Blakeney Point's breeding birds, check out the East of England National Trust blog.
Visitors on the seal ferries continue to enjoy excellent views, this is by far the best way to see the seals. For walkers heading up the Point from Cley, make sure you visit at low tide to avoid disappointment and please obey all on-site signage.

 Sarah and Paul digging in signs

In invertebrate news: today we saw a freshly emerged Ruby Tiger moth. There have also been a few fresh Small Copper butterflies on the wing. Today has proved to be the best day for bird migration so far, producing a male Blackcap, four Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, two Tree Pipits, a Song Thrush, a female Blackbird and a Starling.

In fish news: this Thornback Ray washed up on the beach earlier in the week:
These rays are common in UK coastal waters, but are seldom seen on Blakeney Point itself.

And finally, the answer to last week's "guess the legs" quiz....
 the limbs in question used to belong to a Black-tailed Godwit.

- Ajay and Paul, with photos by Sarah
(the Blakeney Point Rangers)  

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