Sunday, 10 June 2012

Absence makes the heart grow stronger....

Sorry for the lack of blog activity lately. Don't worry, the excitement of the two red-rumped swallows didn't send me over the edge, there are two good reasons.

The first was an excellent birding and mammal watching trip to NE Poland and the second, much more mundane reason was a trapped nerve in my back which debilitated me for the best part of two weeks. Before I round up the latest news from Druridge (there's not much!), here are some photos from Poland. We went to the amazing Bialoweiza Forest NP in the extreme NE of Poland first then to the Biebza marshes. If you haven't been to this area before I can thoroughly recommend it.

Bog alder and spruce forest - home of white-backed woodpeckers
middle-spotted woodpecker at the nest
Pygmy owl (poor quality, nearly dark!)
European bison at dawn - worth the 3.30am start
black redstart  - just out of the nest
common cranes

great reed warbler in FULL blast
whiskered tern
white-winged tern
So, back to Druridge. My bad-back literally put me out of action until Monday/Tuesday so no visits at all til then. Even though I am a bit more mobile, I've only managed four short visits to the patch.

Barn owls seem ever-present at the moment, with both parent hunting around the patch from early evening. (I did fear for them the other night when three 'shoot anything that moves' types turned up with air rifles). A male marsh harrier is hunting regularly over the Budge fields too. Two little terns were feeding in the bay, a species I failed to see in 2011.

What is worrying is the total absence of grasshopper warblers - where are they? I spoke to Dave Elliott who hasn't heard any at East Chev either. Is this situation the same across the County?

Today was generally grey, the sun did put in a short appearance in the afternoon. I had a good walk around the patch this morning but didn't see much of note. It wasn't easy to see anything from any of the hides as the grass has now grown up in front of the windows. Normally I would cut this myself, but not with my bad-back! Hopefully NWT are on the case. I spent some time wandering around with the new camera, just trying it out. The light was awful so not much success.
View from the hide - good if you like wildflowers
cuckoo flower or ladies smock
There were fledged grey heron youngsters on the Budge fields. We tried to ring some at the colony before we went to Poland, but couldn't get into the nests. There were eight occupied nests this year, down two from 2011.

Tonight I had a quick look on the see and scan over the patch. The oddest thing was a party of 19 sanderlings, all in breeding plumage, that appeared on the beach from nowhere. The question is...are they late migrants heading north or are they either failed or non-breeders moving back south?

Hopefully normal bogging service will now resume.

PS the patch year-list now stands at 114 (must try harder)

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