Tuesday, 14 May 2013

14th of May: She's only gone and done it again

Last year we were surprised to find an Oystercatcher scrape with five eggs in it, as the usual clutch size is two to four. This year, in almost exactly the same place (between the Tern Hide and the Lifeboat House), we found another scrape with five eggs in it. Oystercatchers will often return to the same spot to nest year on year, so this was not surprising, however the fact that both years a clutch of five had been laid was unusual. What was even more unusual was that the next day there were six eggs:
...and the following day there were seven eggs:

This is the first known occurance of an Oystercatcher nest with seven eggs in it on Blakeney Point. While we thought it might just be possible that an Oystercatcher may have been able to lay five eggs in five days, seven is surely impossible. This is almost certainly a case of egg dumping, where a second female has laid her eggs in the same scrape. Egg dumping is common in some bird species, such as Grey Partridges. We wait with eager antipation to see if all seven eggs will successfully hatch.

Things have been very quiet on the migrant front in the last couple of weeks. The only recent sighting of note was a Honey Buzzard flying east over on the Point on Saturday morning. Things have been more exciting with our resident species, with new nests being found daily, including our first Redshank, Skylark, Swallow and Pied Wagtail nests of the season and 20th Oystercatcher.

Nests in the grass: Redshank (left); Skylark (right).

We still have good numbers of Sandwich Terns now settled on eggs on the very tip of Far Point - notably further along than last year. Plans are in place for an exciting colour ringing project on the Point later this season, so check back for more information. Little Terns are now present in good numbers and are starting to settle on the beach. Tomorrow we will be fencing off parts of the shingle ridge to protect them, so please keep away from fencelines and observe the dog exclusions to prevent disturbance to them. Look out for Little Terns diving for fish close to the shore.

This past few days have brought the first significant rainfall of the season and south-westerly winds strong enough to blow our weathervane away. We have our fingers crossed that the second half of the month will bring good conditions for the breeding birds and also a few more spring migrants.

- Matt and Ajay

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