Click on photos to enlarge, please do not copy photos without permission

Friday 1 December 2023

Norfolk Seals

 



Morston Quay Seal Trip 

November 20th



Having pre booked with Temple Seal Trips running out of Morston Quay, Chris and myself left home around 6.30a.m, the trip was governed by the tide not surprisingly, on arrival we sailed around 11.30a.m. A big wide boat, around 16 of us were in it with plenty of room for me to swing the camera and not take anyone out with the lens.

The weather was spot on as we headed out of the Creek at Morston, on the way out to Blakeney Point, we saw the odd Seal, but in ever increasing numbers as we headed further out, heads started popping out everywhere.

As we got further out the sheer numbers of Seals, they were all Atlantic Grey Seals mostly with the occasional Harbour Seal mixed in.

As you know from the Blog I see, Grey Seals along the Thames quite often, just a head usually and partial body, however with many hauled out, you realise just how big they are, especially the Bulls.

As we neared all the remote areas further out, pups started to appear and the sheer numbers were quite staggering, up in the thousands we were told stretched as far as the eye could see along the sand dunes.

A spectacular sight, Chris absolutely loved it as did I.



                                                                   Striking colours



                                                            Lots of time spent sleeping


                                                      Heads started to show on the way out


                                                                      Mum and pup


                                                 Pup - this is what contentness looks like


                                                                      Grey Seals


              More Grey Seals, we were told up in the thousands dissapearing right along the coast


                                                                 Bull, Cow and pup




                                       Way back on the dunes, this one kept an eye on the boat


                                                                            Big!



I was obviously keeping an eye out for birds as well; some good birds were seen like Great Northern and Red Throated Diver.

Also 2 Razorbills, 3 Rock Pipits, Guillemot, 2 Red Breasted Mergansers, Pintail, Goldeneye, and a Red Kite patrolling the Seal colony, presumably looking for scraps.

A great trip.

Friday 17 November 2023

The Week

 




So far it has been quite a busy one, I’m trying to keep on top of the Little Owl Boxes in the never-ending saga against Grey Squirrell occupancy, for want of better words they are persistent, destructive little buggers. Not content with having a chew of the entrance hole, the little so and so’s chewed into the internal ledge inside as well.

I suppose it is to be expected, any largish box is fair game and a readymade Drey, just waiting to be filled up with leaves/twigs.

I cleaned out one Little Box last Sunday, this box produced 2 young Owls which we ringed on June 7th this year, however after this it seems the Squirrels took over.

On opening the box, it was wall to wall drey material so turfed this out, it’s now about persistence and checking the box regularly, if they fill it up again, keep turfing them out until they give it up as a bad idea.

After this I checked a Kestrel box, despite rarely seeing any activity in it, something had been using it considerably with lots of guano inside. Possibly Stock Dove but having never seen them in it, I would suspect not. With a juvenile Starling wing in the corner, I would suspect a Little Owl is possibly using it.

I also checked a 2nd Little Owl box during the week, again chewed and yet another Dray, same process, out it came.

Also caught up with a Tit box that had come loose, this had also succumbed to the attentions of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, so very likely the young were taken. I put a metal hole on it, just about covered it so hopefully it will do the trick and protect the young.



                                                                          Drey


                                                                 


                                                        Kestrel Box - occupancy/guano


                                                                    Little Owl Box


                                                                Tit Box - ready to fall


                                                                      Great Spot


                                                        Hopefully do the trick


                                                   Back up


                                             Another Little Owl box, drey turfed out


Another new Peregrine site, featured earlier, has come to light and this week I was lucky enough to place a Nest Tray on Tuesday. They tried to breed this year, but sadly the eggs rolled, the tray has been placed pretty early, so hopefully it will do the trick.

It’s got a roof overhang, so there protected from the weather, fingers crossed.




                                                                Tray and Substrate


                          Ready and waiting - fingers crossed - young even have perching blocks.


                                                 Another site I visited, always watching.

 

 

 

 

Saturday 11 November 2023

Battersea Power Station

 


Latest



As we get nearer a rapidly approaching Christmas, and yet another breeding and licence period for the Peregrines, thoughts again turn to the female’s fertility at the ripe old age of 13+.

This year she failed to lay eggs, despite going through multiple copulation and from this extensive ‘incubation’ in the egg scrape, but sadly she failed to produce any eggs.

She is BTO metal ringed on her right leg and I am keeping an eye out for any change, I check her regularly on the CCTV to see if there is any difference to her, but she is holding on well.

I know from my visits to the Power Station, there are intruding peregrines testing them fairly regularly, this is happening at most sites that I monitor. In the run up to breeding, it will increase, especially from January onwards.

In the last couple of months, the Tiercel has been taking a lot of Ring-Necked Parakeets, nearby Battersea Park provides a good food source, being smaller and more agile than the female, the Parakeets it seems are his top food source at this time of year.

I haven’t seen the Black Redstart for a good while, the eastern area it usually favours has not provided sightings this year, however that’s not to say it’s not here, there are now multiple sedum roofs aloft in a number of areas so I could just be missing him.

Nest boxes, including the Peregrine Nest box now number 23 boxes on the Power Station Estate, this is divided between hole boxes and open fronted nest boxes.

I am waiting for the leaves to drop to expose all the Goldfinch nests, in 2022 I located 11 nests so by far the most prolific breeder on site. Approaching mid-November and still waiting for leaves to drop shows you just how much our climate has changed.

On a recent visit I recorded a large distant flock of Fieldfare, at the time I estimated the flock to be around 70 birds, they were moving southwest, I took a few far off snaps and actually counting them on the photo revealed 95 birds.



                                                                        95 Fieldfare


                                          Modern high rise architecture - little room for nature


                                                                          Falcon


                                                    Falcon flat out after a Feral Pigeon


                                                      One of the regular feeding ledges


                                                           Falcon  with a Feral Pigeon


                                                      Eating on the wing like a Hobby


                                                        Where they spend a lot of time


                                                                      Feeding ledge



It shows how easy it is to undercount, especially on small bird flocks, a good number of birds however hopefully heralds the arrival of far more this winter of this colourful winter Thrush.

Friday 3 November 2023

Abberton Reservoir


November 3rd 2023



A morning out for me and Chris, decent weather after Thursday’s storm, trying to get out a bit more, tied up of late with Peregrine stuff so an old haunt as we approach winter was always going to be welcome.

Covered both causeways over the course of 2 ½ hours, starting firstly at Layer Breton before moving on to Layer De La Haye and then around the centre.

No real cold weather as yet so winter specialities not present in numbers, from the causeways anyway, however plenty could be out there hidden in the vastness of the reservoir.

Ended the morning on 55 species, missed the Spoonbills unfortunately but did catch up with some Reservoir specials.

2 Great White Egrets, Rock Pipit, 4 Goldeneye, Red Kite, 4 Red Crested Pochard and Raven were the pick of the bunch, but top spot will go to 3 Cattle Egrets, one seen distantly and then 2 feeding in a nearby field.



















Duck flocks were vast already, no doubt there were more goodies out there but just a bit of easy birding from the car, very enjoyable.