Sunday, 28 July 2013

28th of July: Another great year for Sandwich Terns

This year, the Sandwich Terns on Blakeney Point have fledged between 1,700 and 2,000 young (slightly lower than some previous years on the Point, but still a fantastic result). Sandwich Terns are doing very well on Blakeney Point thanks to a good food supply and suitable habitat, plus low levels of disturbance and predation - the latter two being thanks to our management work. Other sites in Europe have much lower fledging success due to, for example; predation by Mediterranean Gulls. It is most satisfying to know that the Sandwich Terns on Blakeney Point have had another successful year, especially as around 5% of the World population breed here.
Juvenile Sandwich Tern on the Point
(photograph courtesey of Richard Porter)

There are still a large number of juvenile and adult terns on Blakeney Point including young Little Terns that are yet to fledge. So please continue to respect the dog restrictions and keep away from fenced off nesting areas to prevent disturbance.

For information on our Sandwich colour-ringing project in partnership with the BTO, follow this link. Keep an eye out for colour rings.

Visitors on a recent guided walk were lucky enough to witness Six-spot Burnet moths emerging from their pupae.
Pupae beside caterpillar

Moth emerging/ Moths mating

Six-spot Burnet moths can be seen feeding on the various plants found on the reserve including thistles. These attract a host of nectar-seeking species such as these wonderful iridescent green Forester moths...

...and this Essex Skipper, so-named because it was discovered in Essex in 1889. Now widespread across the country, it differs from the Small Skipper in that the tips of the antennae are black.

Sand Digger Wasps can often be seen amongst the dunes on Blakeney Point. These parasitic wasps have an interesting life cycle. They first paralyse their prey and then drag it into a cavity they have dug in the sand. They then lay their eggs within the prey item and seal them in. When the eggs hatch, there is a ready source of food straight away - in this case a paralysed caterpillar. Once this is devoured they emerge out of the sand.
Sand Digger Wasp parasitising caterpillar
(insect photography by Matt)

Recent bird sightings on the Point included Hobby and Peregrine, up to 11 Arctic Skuas (18th), the occasional Yellow Wagtail, three Curlew Sandpipers (26th) and a Cuckoo that stayed for over a week feeding on the abundance of White Satin moth larvae in the Plantation. Over a thousand Curlew and 76 Whimbrel were recorded during Friday's Wetland Bird Survey.

Over the past few days we have, with help from Richard Porter, recorded some high counts of butterflies on the Point. On Friday 125 Small Coppers and over 100 Graylings were counted.

Today's low tide seal count was rather impressive, totaling over a thousand seals: 887 Grey and 208 Common. We recorded seals on today's National Whale and Dolphin Watch at Cley Beach, but sadly no Harbour Porpoises this time. It is always worth looking as they can sometimes be seen off the Norfolk Coast.

The Cat's-ears, which are abundant amongst the sand dunes, have now all gone to seed. While they were still in flower we captured this footage showing the flowers opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon.

To finish with, here is some time-lapse footage of the tide coming in and going out of Blakeney Harbour, captured from the top of the Lifeboat House.

- This week's Sunday evening blog post was written by Ajay and Matt.

1 comment:

  1. Stuart Warrington29 July 2013 at 18:06

    Excellent news about the sandwich terns, and lovely photos of the moths and butterflies too.
    Brownsea Island fledged 121 from 180 pairs of STs this summer from their shingle islands in the lagoon.