Monday, 30 January 2017

Jan 30th Cley

Clearing up surge damage at Cley
The roads to Cley are open once more as the floods caused by the surge of a couple of weeks ago have now been cleared up. So it was about time Mum and I paid the reserve a visit and check out what the damage, if any, was like. The drive down to Cley revealed how far the sea water reached inland as piles of reed, rubbish and other forms of debris lay everywhere along the roadside. On the reserve, all of this is dumped all over the place especially in the ditches and were also dumped on top of the existing reed beds. I also found the odd dead bird here and there, the victims of the surge. The clear up is still underway with diggers were seen on the beach hard at work. The only inaccessible place on the reserve was Bishop's Hide with red tape stopping you from walking down the path to it. Everywhere else was open to the public.

Debris dumped by the surge
It was a bit muddy on the path leading to the boardwalk that takes you to the three central hides, but at least the stonechats were a pleasant distraction from it for a couple of minutes. From two of the three hides, there were plenty of wildfowl around, most notably being pintail with at least 20 or so individuals out on the pools. There were also wigeon, teal, mallards, brent geese, two mute swans, black-tailed godwits, lapwings, dunlin, redshanks, shelducks and two marsh harriers.

House Sparrows
Marsh Harrier
Mute Swans

Black-tailed Godwit
Brent Geese and Wigeon
Godwit and Dunlin
Shelducks and Dunlin
Pink-footed and Brent Geese
If you wanted to see something more scarce, then the East Bank was the place to be. A female smew was reported at one of the pools around there today. We walked down East Bank hoping to see it, but there was also something else that was creating a small crowd there watching the nearby reeds. I was able to see what they were looking at and even managed to take a photo of it as it moved non-stop in and out of the edge of a reed bed. However, there was some debate of what it was. Was it a common chiffchaff or a Siberian chiffchaff? Most of them believed it was a Siberian chiffchaff, but no one sounded convinced about if it was or not. So for now, I am siding with them until someone says otherwise. At least the smew did not cause any confusion. It was a bit distant, but at least it was easy to recognise amongst the other ducks that were feeding alongside it on one of the pools at the opposite end of the field.

Female Smew

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Jan 29th Norwich

The Big Garden Bird Watch 2017
It is the annual Big Garden Bird Watch Weekend this weekend and for this year, it has been extended to three days. This Saturday, Sunday and Monday, thousands of people are recording how many birds enter their garden within an hour and sending their results to the RSPB to find out how the population of our garden birds have been doing this winter compared to previous years. Today, as I don't have a garden myself, I helped out with two surveys at two different gardens.

My parent's garden
First up was my parent's garden. The weather was good this morning as I sat with Mum and Dad in their conservatory with breakfast butties in hand while waiting for the birds to arrive. The hour started at 9:15 am and ended at 10:15 am, but it was a rather slow hour bird wise. There were birds everywhere but in the garden where it mattered as we couldn't count the ones flying or sitting in the trees outside our garden's boundaries, which included redwings! They were so close to being counted, but it didn't matter how many times we prayed for them to enter our garden, they just didn't. In the end, our results were; 2 blackbirds, 1 blue tit, 1 robin, 1 woodpigeon, 1 dunnock and 1 chaffinch. Pretty poor compared to previous years, but it could have been better if they all decided to not tease us in the surrounding trees behind the fence.

Female Blackbird
Blue Tit
Male Blackbird
Redwing (Which did not enter the garden!)

Aunt Barbara's garden
 The second survey was at my Aunt Barbara's house. With myself, my parents, my aunt and her little dachshund, Austina, there were plenty of eyes to spot the birds than I've ever had before for this survey. From 11:00 am to midday, we waited and waited for the first bird to appear. It wasn't until halfway through the hour when we finally saw something, a male blackbird. Then in the last 15 minutes, we had a jay and then a woodpigeon and that was it. Compared to last year (which we had 19 birds of 10 different species), it was not as productive, but at least it wasn't like my survey in 2013 here, where I saw nothing at all!