Thursday, 17 May 2018

17th of May: Taking Stock

This week brought much excitement when Point-based rangers Leighton, Luke and Ryan informed me that a Stock Dove was nesting on the Lifeboat House. Up until 2012, a pair of Stock Doves nested in the roof of the building every year. The winter restoration of the Lifeboat House, in 2012/13, made it watertight, which was much appreciated by the rangers living inside, but meant that the Stock Doves no longer had access to their favoured nesting place. A pair were seen in the area in spring 2013, but did not go on to breed. With permission from the National Trust's regional curator, I put up a nest box on the building, which was painted blue to match the Lifeboat House cladding. Sadly, this was never used.

Stock Dove inside the Lifeboat House, 2012 (Joe Cockram)

In 2011, volunteer Bee B├╝che put up nest boxes designed for Swifts on the look-out tower, hoping to attract them by playing recordings of their calls. Swift calls were played in the tower for three consecutive springs but did not manage to attract Swifts, which have never bred on the Point. In 2015, a pair of Starlings nested in one of the boxes, the first breeding record since the 1980s. This gave me the idea to remove a side panel from one of the Swift boxes so that it might be attractive to Stock Doves. Three years later, and six years since last breeding, it is a delight to have them back!

The nest contains two eggs...

In other news, on Blakeney Freshes we were delighted to hear a Bittern booming in the reedbed this week. The Freshes are looking fantastic at the moment, with good numbers of Lapwing and Redshank chicks...
Redshank chick on Blakeney Freshes (Ajay Tegala)

Lapwing on Blakeney Freshes (Ian Chilton)

Black-headed Gulls have started laying on the Freshes this week, having made nests out of reeds...

And finally, back to the Point, we are thrilled to have Little Terns present at the Watch House colony in double figures, with birds landing near the decoys put out by Blakeney Primary School. If you are walking up the Point, look out for our friendly Little Tern volunteers and please follow their advice to help protect these precious seabirds.

-Ajay Tegala, Ranger

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