Thursday, 4 May 2017

Cold winds

It's been a bitterly cold start to May on the Point, with even the ever-so-hardy Ranger team resorting to wrapping in thermals, donning multiple woolly hats and leaping thankfully into warm showers, while we're getting through mountains of holm oak in the wood burner. It seems the cold weather has slowed down the progress of spring too, with fewer migrants coming through than expected, and little nesting activity to report. No oystercatcher, plover, sandwich tern or little tern nests have yet been observed, but the pair of avocet hang on, sat braving the artic chill, on their territory close to Cley Beach car park. With this in mind, please remember everyone should keep dogs on leads near Cley Beach, and always respect dog exclusion zones on the reserve.

Despite the chill, this being Blakeney there are plenty of super sightings to report. Migrant activity include willow warblers, a wood warbler, common redstart and lesser whitethroat. Very many swallows have passed us by; often appearing suddenly and silently from the enveloping mist, ghostly messengers from warmer climes. Invertebrates too are struggling into activity. Carder bee species and small copper butterflies have been apparent. Moth trapping this week has revealed the presence of yellow belles, tawny shears, flame shoulder and common quakers.

Our two standout sightings for the week though have to be a nightjar, spotted lurking among the sueda bushes, and a superlative spoonbill. This came flapping and flailing over the Lifeboat Station, to plunge into dank saltmarsh towards Yankee Ridge. What an otherworldly sight... trailing its vibrant white cloak of feathers, a huge yellow wedge of bill protruding proudly before it. It seemed to bring an immediate feel of warmer African air to Blakeney. It was spotted later, feeding and resting in a salty creek; perhaps a confused theatrical extra, due on stage in Antony and Cleopatra, but mistakenly gate crashing a production of Great Expectations. It's not been seen since, but it was definitely my highlight of the season so far.

Howard Jones

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