Monday, 28 March 2016

28th of March: Spring Cleaning

Just like late March last year, it's been a windy few days! Despite the wind, National Trust volunteer Tom Whiley took the first Sandwich Tern photograph of the year on Blakeney Point:
Sandwich Tern, 26th of March (Tom Whiley)

Tom was helping with our big spring beach clean at the time, along with 47 others. This is our best-attended beach clean to date. A great big thank you to everyone who soldiered on despite the wind and covered 3.5 miles, filling an impressive 68 bin bags.

 Starting out from Cley beach

The final heap - 3.5 miles in 3 hours

The beach now looks a great deal tidier, nicely ahead of the breeding bird season. Two pairs of Ringed Plovers were seen displaying on the shingle during the beach clean. Along with Oystercatchers, Avocets and Little Terns, they lay their camouflaged eggs amongst the shingle, with first eggs (Ringed Plover) laid in April. Numbers of Shelduck have also increased in recent days on both Blakeney Point and Fresh-marsh, ahead of the breeding season. Many Shelduck on the reserve breed in the safety of old rabbit holes in the dunes. 

Recent bird sightings have included regular Short-eared Owls, Peregrine and female Merlin plus migrant Blackbirds, Redwing, Robin, Chaffinch, Spoonbill and a Black Redstart that sheltered from the elements in the Lifeboat House visitor centre overnight having flown in from Mainland Europe. On Stiffkey Meals last week, four Ringed Plover pairs were recorded along with the ringtail Hen Harrier, which has been seen regularly across the reserve this year.
Black Redstart at Blakeney (Joe Cockram, 2012)

It is not just the beach that we have been cleaning, but the Lifeboat House too. The visitor centre and toilets are now open for the 2016 season, and the Rangers will be moving in next week. This will be my fifth season working on Blakeney Point. I am being joined by seasonal assistants Daniel and Wynona; both have previously been seabird rangers for the National Trust up on the Northumberland Coast at the Farne Islands and Long Nanny.

- Ajay, Coastal Ranger

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

2nd of March: From Norfolk to Namibia

News has reached us that a Sandwich Tern ringed as a chick on Blakeney Point in summer 2014 was seen in Namibia, southern Africa this February (the 17th, to be precise). That's an impressive 8,575 km south.
Sandwich Tern at Blakeney last year (Ian Ward)

We look forward to the return of these elegant seabirds. Over the coming few weeks, we should start to see the first returning birds on the north Norfolk coast.

- Ajay (Coastal Ranger)