Part of our breeding bird monitoring work on Blakeney Point involves recording nests. Our data is submitted to the British Trust for Ornithology's Nest Recording Scheme. On Monday (31st of March), we had a look to see if any Black-headed Gulls had laid yet. There were no signs of any gull nests. However, a female Mallard flushed from under a Suaeda bush. A careful look revealed a nest containing at least 21 eggs:
Mallard's lay eggs at one to two day intervals, which means that she would have laid the first egg on the 10th of March at the latest. However, the clutch size is typically around 12 eggs - this may be a case of egg dumping, where two ducks have laid their eggs in the same nest. Indeed three Mallards are present in the area: a female incubating the eggs, plus a male and another female nearby.
On the shingle ridge, an old friend is back. This colour-ringed female Ringed Plover is back on territory. She has been present on Blakeney Point for most breeding seasons since 2003. She was spotted by Richard Porter yesterday, he took this photograph last June:
As we are now in April, the seasonal dog restrictions are in place to protect ground-nesting birds, running through to the 15th of August. We ask all visitors to refer to signs, keep dogs on leads and stay out of the restricted areas. When birds are forced off their nests, their eggs can get cold or be taken by predators. We want all visitors to enjoy Blakeney Point and also want to do all we can to prevent disturbance to our vulnerable breeding birds, which include Schedule 1 protected species (it is an offence to cause disturbance to a Schedule 1 species). Please help by giving all fenced areas a wide berth.