Sunday, 19 May 2013

19th of May: Choosing the right pasta

Following last year’s Sandwich Tern nest count, we looked into the perfect pasta with which to mark nests. Penne proved to be the right choice. When in the tern colony counting nests, which we are permitted to do by licence, it is important to be as efficient as possible to reduce the length of time spent in the colony in order to keep disturbance minimal. Putting a piece of penne pasta in each nest enabled us to easily see which had been counted and which hadn’t.

Yesterday we had the task of counting out 4,000 pieces of penne in preparation.

This year the Sandwich Terns had all settled on the tip of Far Point, further along from last year when most were amongst the suaeda. The nest count revealed that there were 59 more nests than 2012: a grand total of 3,794 nests.

It was a privilege to be in the colony and see the terns’ eggs. The photograph below/right shows how close together they nest. The one to the left shows a marked nest, this one is of interest because of the unusually white egg in contrast to the typical mottled one.

Sandwich Terns on Far Point

The nest count was not the only highlight of the weekend. Today the first chicks of the season were seen. It was a pleasure to watch day-old Skylark chicks in their nest. Note their yellow mouths, this colouring directs the parent to the chicks’ mouths when they fly in with food.

Matt was able to see his first (Red-spotted) Bluethroat. A male was found on the Point on Saturday morning. Seeing a Bluethroat on Blakeney Point is always special, they are historically synonymous with Blakeney Point but have become increasingly rare in recent times. Some very nice photos of the Bluethroat on Blakeney Point can be seen on Penny Clarke’s blog. There has been a Short-eared Owl roosting on the Point over the past few days. It has been regularly perching on fence posts near the Lifeboat House enabling fantastic views...

Another find this weekend was a Drinker moth caterpillar, so called because the caterpillar is said to have a liking for drinking drops of dew:

This afternoon we were able to finally get on the water in the boat, following the successful installation of a new outboard motor.

- The Blakeney Point Rangers: Matt, Paul and Ajay
(All wildlife photography by Matt Twydell)

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