Sunday, 19 October 2014

19th of October: A Mini Rush of Thrushes

The north-easterly winds early in the week blew a number of migrant birds to Blakeney Point. Many of them were thrushes having crossed the North Sea from Scandinavia. Song Thrushes peaked at 125 on the 13th, Blackbirds at 50 on the 15th and Redwings at 90 also on the 15th.

The most impressive arrival was of some 109 Ring Ouzels in two large flocks on the 13th; this is by far the largest number of Ring Ouzels recorded on the Point in a single day. The previous record having been just 30.

Other notable arrivals included 140 Robins and 45 Blackcaps on the 13th plus 140 Goldcrests and 10 Short-eared Owls on the 14th. Among the migrants were a number of special birds, including 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Great Grey Shrikes and the first Shore Larks of the autumn.

Purple Sandpiper camouflaged amongst shingle

Long-eared Owl on Far Point

Reports from other parts of Blakeney National Nature Reserve include a Bittern on Blakeney Freshes and Snow Buntings over Granborough Hill at Salthouse. We wait eagerly for the first over-wintering flocks of Snow Buntings to take up their residences on the Point and at Salthouse. In fact, it is a time of year full of anticipation, as we also await the birth of the first Grey Seal pup. Pupping has already started on the Farne Islands and is imminent at nearby Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. On Friday we saw the first signs of a seal investigating the dunes. Our first pups normally appear between the 26th and 30th of October. We will let you know as soon as number one is born.

In preparation, we have put out metal road pins to form fence-lines when pupping gets underway. Please do not interfere with these, as they will all be joined together with string when pupping starts. This is important, as the pups are vulnerable to disturbance and adults can be extremely vicious.

This map shows the restricted zones (click map to enlarge):
Zone A - no access at any time of year to protect hauled-out seals on the tip
Zone B - fenced off 1st November to 1st February to protect seal pups (core area)
Zone C - fenced off 15th November to 1st February to protect seal pups 
The red dotted lines show suggested walking routes during the restricted period. These routes have various viewpoints to get good views of the seals.

We are running seal events on the 28th and 29th of November; see our web-site for full details and booking.

Continuing the seal theme. We have just had news through about a tagged Grey Seal found dead on the Point earlier in the year. It had been rescued as a pup and released by RSPCA East Winch in 1999, making it 15 when it sadly died. This is in fact the oldest recorded of a released from East Winch.

We also had news this week of a ringed female Little Tern we found dead on the beach in the summer. This bird had been ringed at the Humber Estuary, Lincolnshire in 1993, making it an impressive 20 years and 11 months. The average life expectancy is around 12 years and the record is 23 years and 11 months.
We knew the bird was a female because it was egg-bound. The above photograph - although a little gruesome - shows the egg inside the bird.

- Ajay

1 comment:

  1. Stuart Warrington24 October 2014 at 12:19

    Fascinating to learn about the longevity of the little tern and the released seal. Very good to see the seal zones clearly marked too. Hope the pupping season goes well (no surge tides!). Will the numbers continue to rise?