Sunday, 1 June 2014

1st of June: Black Redstart in ladies loos

Earlier this week a Black Redstart was spotted in the ladies loos on Blakeney Point. This delightful, robin-sized bird was passing on migration and didn't spend long in the ladies toilet block - perhaps it felt embarrassed? - so there wasn't chance to get a photograph, but this sketch might help you to picture the scene...

Other notable migrants reported this week included an Eastern Subalpine Warbler, a Siberian Chiffchaff, an Icterine Warbler, Greenish Warbler (only the third spring record for the Point) and two Bee-eaters (the third ever record on Blakeney Point).

Breeding bird news
Several Black-headed Gull chicks have now hatched.

Earlier in the month we had a trail camera on a nest, it captured this footage one night:

The Redshank eggs near the Lifeboat House also hatched this week. The chicks are fluffy and adorable. Their parents quickly move them into sheltered creeks where they are, hopefully, hidden from aerial predators.
Just hatched (2012)

The Pied Wagtails, that fledged six chicks from a nest box on our shed, have now built a second nest amongst a pile plastic crates in the gas cage by the Lifeboat House. We hope their second clutch will be equally as successful, the nest currently contains five eggs.

This weekend we surveyed our breeding pairs of Oystercatchers.

These distinctive pied birds with carrot bills and blood-coloured legs are known and loved as one of the Point's iconic breeding bird species, with several pairs nesting along the main ridge and around the Lifeboat House, their 'kleep-kleep' calls are familiar to many. However, sadly they are declining. The total to this year's count was just 80 pairs, down 20 from last year.

A large reason for their decline is predation by that notorious egg thief, the Common Gull.
 Common Gull amongst Sea Rocket (photograph by Joe Reed)

Unfortunately the sight of a Common Gull raiding an Oystercatcher nest is all too familiar. They have also taken Little Tern and Ringed Plover eggs, we captured the latter on trail camera last year - you can watch the footage here. Happily, however, we have found two Ringed Plover nests in the last few days, both with a full clutch of four eggs, and both tucked away under Suaeda bushes, hopefully out of sight.

Spot the Oystercatcher
There is an Oystercatcher sat on a nest somewhere in this photograph - can you see her?

The nest in question actually belongs to our old friends the egg-dumpers, who featured in our blog in both 2012 and 2013. They return to more-or-less the same area, and each year one female lays her eggs in another's nest, sharing incubation duties. We have just put a trail camera on this nest, which currently contains five eggs, we will share the footage next week. We also found a nest with six eggs on Near Point.
The five-egg nest

 In bloom
 Just coming into flower on Blakeney Point: Sea Bindweed - also known as 'Granny-jump-out-of-bed'. This plant spread rapidly on Blakeney Point following the disappearance of rabbits.

Moth of the day
Last week's moth trap produced an Elephant Hawkmoth, last night we caught a Small Elephant Hawkmoth.

In other invertebrate news, this week the first dragonflies and damselflies of the year were recorded on the Point: a couple of Hairy Dragonflies and a Common Blue Damselfly.

Mammal news
On one of our recent dawn patrols, a Roe Deer was spotted bounding along Beach Way. Deer are rare on the Point, but there are occasional sightings of Roe Deer and Muntjacs every year, and some years even Red Deer. In 2010 a Muntjac fawn was actually born amongst bushes in the Plantation.
Muntjac on the Point in 2011

Guess the legs
We were very surprised to find this bird washed up on the beach. Can you guess what species it is? Answer to be revealed in our next post.

On the theme of yellow legs, we saw this Yellow-legged Gull on the beach recently.

"Blakeney days and Blakeney nights! When does one see the Point at its best? In summer when the skies are blue and terns scream, dive, fight and play overhead and seals bask in the sunshine on the sandbanks" - Reginald Gaze, 1949
Above: Dawn; Below: Dusk

Finally, our latest low tide latest seal count, conducted on the 30th of May, totaled 515 Grey and 10 Common. The Common Seals will be having their pups nearby in the Wash over the next two months.

Blakeney Point Ranger

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