Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Projects are ending.

This last fortnight has been quite a busy time on the Reserve with many people coming and going, board meetings and Magnus and I trying to finish off all of our “Spring Projects” before he departs this weekend and leaves the throne to me. The main projects we have trying to finish are Farmland Breeding Birds surveys, Wetland Surveys (WeBs), Nest boxes, Hooded Crows, Starling project, Ortolan Buntings and complete counts of wildfowl clutches on the reserve (Much harder than it sounds with such a massive area of reed, pools, field and marsh when there’s only 2 of you. I would say “There’s not enough hours in a day” but it doesn’t go very dark so there probably is!

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Ortolan Bunting habitat, above left is a normal small stand of trees and right is a piece of set aside which the farmer has been paid to leave unsown, this is because apparently Ortolan’s prefer “black soil” to feed and breed in. Our studies however suggest otherwise.

Anyway, we’ve finish with many of these and some just have a few bits and pieces to tidy up, Some Starlings are having second broods (Making my life difficult), Ortolan Buntings need to be monitored throughout June and into early July (we’re trying to locate pairs and nests – If anyone has tips on nest finding please share them). The Wetlands surveys are now finished as are the Farmland BBS’. The Nest boxes continue due to many pairs of Pied Flycatchers still on eggs so I’m not complaining about that, also a mystery nest which I hope somebody can help out on. (Think it may be Spotted Fly? but it’s in a normal nest box.

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            Spotted Flycatcher nest?

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Very bad picture of a very smart Marsh Tit chick found in the final nest box of the lot; a very nice little “ringing tick”.

The crows are about done and yesterday when checking the final un-climbable trees we managed to see many large young in the nests. We were also lucky enough to find a newly fledged youngster on the ground. This little fella gave me one of the nicest ringing experiences ever, when after releasing him he decided he would sit, call and preen on my arm for a good 5 minutes. He made all the long hours of straining my neck back in April worth while and made me realise how much of a privilege it is to ring birds.

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Confused Hooded Crow juvenile.

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I tried to release him…


Mystery Insect

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Finally we have the mystery insects, these things have turned many trees totally silver this week and I’m not quite sure what they are. The white film they cover the trees in feels like paper and is very strong stuff. I think they may be some sort of Moth Larvae? Either way I saw a cow pierce the film on a tree yesterday and enjoy eating thousands of grubs that fell all over her face. NICE

if anyone can help with anything on the Blog please comment :)


Fleetwood Birder said...

Hello Craig, Could the nest be that of Redstart? They tend to have a slightly finer nest than Pied Fly and of course use boxes. Your mystery insect is definitely a moth caterpillar and there has been problems with it over here recently; after a quick 'google' I think the caterpillar is of the Orchard Ermine Moth. Cheers, Seumus

Craig said...

Thanks Seumus, very helpful. Maybe a Redstart but I've not seen or heard any in the area? Time will tell I suppose. Thanks also for the moth info, many leafless trees seem to have this papery film all over them at the moment and it seemed to appear within a day or two. What do you mean by problems with it at home? Cheers, C

Fleetwood Birder said...

Not literally at home but back in the UK. The moth has been making the headlines in some Newspapers. Cheers, Seumus

Craig said...

Hi Seumus, Why's it making the news? Is it a new species for us? And the Mystery nest after hours (literally) of waiting to see a feeding adult.... White Wagtail!!! Cheers, Craig

Fleetwood Birder said...

No it's not a new species, I just think that 'Joe Public' are noticing it and therefore it is news worthy. Cheers, Seumus