Saturday, 27 March 2010

Common Crane (Grus Grus L.); Horsey Mill, Norfolk

The sighting of these distant common crane (Grus grus) Nr Horsey Mill, Norfolk in the late afternoon rewarded a days effort to find the birds in the local area.  A second pair were later seen flying to roost from the raptor roost viewing point at Stubb's Mill.

Also seen from the raptor roost was a barn owl (Tyto alba), sev. marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and a single hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis) grazed on the wet grassland in front of us.

A singing willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) was an added bonus on the day.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Grimes Graves, Norfolk

30ft descent into Pit 1

details from within Pit 1

Grim's quarries or the Devil's holes

periglacial stripes

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

singing chiffchaff Ower Wood, Sparsholt College

My first singing male chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) of the spring, Ian's second - but he was just as chuffed on getting two in two days.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Vis-mig at Blashford Lakes

A stochastic event interrupted Excel population modelling this afternoon, when a post lunch phone call arrived inviting me to join a friend at Blashford Lakes Reserve for some late afternoon birding in the shelter of the Tern and Goosander hides.

Shortly after arrival at the Tern hide I missed 3 little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) as they flew in and disappeared one to the south west and two east over the spit towards the gossander hide. Fortunately a single bird was picked up from the goosander hide a little later. 4 (poss 5) of these birds are now on site.

Around 16:30 I spotted a single barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) hawking amongst a small flock of sand martins (Riparia riparia) - the martin flock swelling in size to circa 120 birds over the next half hour.

Other highlights included a raft of goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) in total 33 on Ibsley Water, complete with displaying males, goosander (Merganser merganser) in very small numbers and 2 grey wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) feeding within meters of the Tern hide.

A large flock of m'ipits was misidentified as 20 water pipits in the Tern hide log book.

Morning bird-song

Having not heard a song thrush at morning song since Saturday 6th March, my week day wake ups have been silent bar for the rattle of house sparrows and blue tits.

This morning I was delighted to be woken up by a blackbird in full voice. Blackbird remains my favourite song bird and not unentirely because it has, until this years song thrush interlude, been the only bird(s) whose song has graced the back gardens of this central city terrace. And what grace.

Numbers of birds feeding and active around the gardens have dropped noticeably over this last week. Thrush numbers in particular - the song thrush appear to have completely gone, and blackbirds were down to two (poss three) males only by Thursday. I haven't noticed a fem blackbird since the start of the week.

Blue tit and great tit are still present, and the house sparrows are getting noisier and increasing in their activity, robin has only been noted on occasion. Wood pigeon hoover the seed mix.

With loud rumours of swallow in the west of the country

and wheatear on the coast;  It will be good to get out and get some fresh air and proper spring birding action, when these end of term assignment deadlines are met.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Brimstone, Sparsholt College Campus

First brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) of the year noted at lunchtime outside Fitgym's, on campus.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Harting Down to Cocking, West Sussex

Corylus avellana in flower

Spring was herald today on the South Downs Way, by the presence of blue-sky song-flight skylark Alauda arvensis and flowering hazel Corylus avellana. A flock of 40+ yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella worked the stubble fields and tree line to the west of Harting Down.

The Devil's Jumps August 2007

The Devil's Jumps on Phillis Down are a series of Bronze Age barrows (tumuli) constructed between 2000 BC - 800 BC They are aligned with the setting sun on midsummers day. Escavated in 1853 two of the barrows were found to contain cremated bones.

Protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archeaological Areas Act 1979 the barrows are managed by the Murray Downland Trust: 

The Devil's Jumps March 2010

The current management plan has removed both the encroaching tree and scrubline as well as cutting down the aged hawthorn Cratageous monogyna trees which grew on the tumuli themselves.

Whilst Bronze Age constructions were originally built within open landscapes to enhance both their profile and significance; I was personally disappointed to see the removal of the hawthorn on the tumuli as they had provided me with both shelter and a metaphor for life out of death (rebirth) over the many years of walking this section of the South Downs Way.

Folklore regarding The Devil's Jumps can be found under discussion at:

Incidental birding highlights included 2 x red kite Milvus milvus, 1 x raven Corvus corax, 3 x buzzard Buteo buteo and a flock of circa 100 fieldfare Turdus pilaris.