Saturday, 26 October 2013

26th of October: Sick Spoonbill, Swift surprise and "Where is the Wren?"

We have been involved in a couple of bird rescues on the reserve this week. The first was this juvenile Brent Goose found in Stanley's Cockle Bight on Tuesday. It appeared unable to fly and could barely run without falling over. We took it off the Point and sent it to the RSPCA East Winch wildlife centre.

The second rescue was a bit more unexpected. On Wednesday a sick Spoonbill was reported on Morston Marsh. We found it in a creek and picked it up. George then took it to East Winch. The bird was a juvenile, it was clearly in a bad way and felt very thin. It is highly unlikely that this year's juveniles from mainland Europe would have reached Norfolk yet. Therefore this bird was more than likely from the only UK breeding colony, just a few miles west at Holkham, where 18 young fledged this summer. The last one fledged less than two months ago.
George to the rescue (Graham Lubbock)

Unfortunately the Spoonbill had to be put to sleep because it had a fractured shoulder. This was perhaps the result of a collision. We are sad that the bird didn't make it, but at least we did all we could for it.

Although we are well into the second half of October, temperatures have been mild with several sunny intervals. This morning a Painted Lady butterfly was seen in the dunes. There are still a number of plants in flower, adding little specks of bright colour to the sand dunes: yellow Ragwort and Cat's-ears, pink Stork's-bill and white Sea Campion.

Even the 101 year old Yukka is in flower.

On the seal front, we are waiting for them to start moving up into the dunes to give birth. Over the last week, numbers hauled out on the sand at low tide have decreased. This is because many seals are out at sea having one last feed prior to pupping. It's certainly no time to be a fish!

Grey Seal pupping starts in the southwest in late summer and works its way clockwise around the the coast reaching Norfolk in late October. The Farne Islands, up in Northumberland, had their first pup on the 27th of September. We are expecting the first pup to be born on Blakeney Point any day now, so watch this space.

Our October wetland bird count recorded 1,877 Wigeon. Other birds recorded on the Point included a Purple Sandpiper, Short-eared Owl, Red-breasted Merganser, 250 Grey Plovers, 550+ Pink-footed Geese flying east and 18 Common Scoters over the sea. On Tuesday four Shore Larks came in off the sea, the first of this autumn. These splendid-looking birds have yellow faces with striking black markings and tufted feather 'horns', for this reason they are also known as the Horned Lark. Slightly smaller than Skylarks, they breed in Scandinavia and in the arctic tundra, small numbers over-winter here feeding along the strandline and amongst the dunes.

Later that day - the 22nd - we were surprised to see two Swifts so late in the year. On Wednesday we saw another over Blakeney Freshes during a birdwatching session with the Young Rangers, who were also treated to views of Bearded Reedlings in flight above the reeds.
Wigeon on Blakeney Freshes (Graham Lubbock)

On Thursday a Wren decided to spend some time inside the Lifeboat House, happily hopping under chairs, along book shelves and around the kitchen. It spent at least half and hour inside without making a sound, then as soon as it got outside began singing its heart out, perhaps rejoicing in its return to freedom. So to finish with, here is a little game of "Where is the Wren?", which also gives an insight into a Rangers' kitchen...
- Ajay (with photographs by Paul)

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