Sunday, 23 August 2015

23rd of August: Full-on fall

Today on Blakeney Point, migration got into full swing. With south-easterly winds and rain all converging to produce the perfect conditions for a 'fall' of migrant birds. As the afternoon went on and the rainfall increased, birds began to arrive in greater numbers resulting in a very special moment in time. Conferring with bird-watchers that braved the four-mile shingle trudge, an impressive list of birds was put together...

The stars were a juvenile Montagu's Harrier over Far Point, a first-winter Marsh Warbler at the Hood and a Wryneck on Far Point. The shear numbers of passerines were probably under-counted: 25+ Whinchats, 15+ Wheatears, 10+ Redstarts, 25+ Willow Warblers, 10+ Tree Pipits and 30+ Pied Flycatchers. Other birds seen today included Hobby, Merlin, Wood Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Cuckoo, Short-eared Owl, Sparrowhawk and Grasshopper Warbler.

Short-eared Owl (Sarah Johnson)

Sparrowhawk on Beach Way (Sarah Johnson)

Insects have also been arriving. With numerous Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and a few Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies, plus several Migrant Hawker and a few Emperor dragonflies.
Peacock on Sea Holly (Sarah Johnson)

This week's moth sightings have included a few Drinkers.
Drinker (Sarah Johnson)

Due to the presence of a notably high number of Common Seals, we have been monitoring the seals throughout the week. We bumped into former Head Warden, Dave Wood (2000-2011), who remembers it used to be the norm that Common Seals would out-number Greys in August, before switching in the autumn. This week's counts have showed a steady increase in Greys...

Monday 17th:       Common x 509;  Grey x   78
Wednesday 19th: Common x 279;  Grey x 436
Thursday 20th:     Common x 386;  Grey x 670

To protect seals from disturbance - and to keep some areas free from disturbance for birds and other wildlife - there is no access to the tip of Far Point at any time of year. But there is open access to the rest of the Point for the next two months (between the end of the breeding bird season and the beginning of the Grey Seal pupping season), except for the Plantation and Garden (these two areas are a refuge for tired migrant birds):

We would like to thank visitors for their cooperation.

Although Blakeney Point is a renowned hot-spot for migrant birds, the lesser-known Gramborough Hill has been particularly productive over the last few days, also owned and managed by the National Trust (previously owned by Brent Pope). Situated three miles east of the Point, at Salthouse, Grambrough is much more easily accessible. Today, visiting bird-watchers enjoyed views of Icterine Warbler, Booted Warbler and Wryneck.

If you are interested in exploring Salthouse, you may be interested in our circular downloadable walk.

Also, don't miss Ranger Graham Lubbock's talk at Blakeney Harbour Rooms at 7.30pm on Monday 24th of August: The History of Blakeney National Nature Reserve - 50 Years of Neptune.

- Ajay and Paul

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