Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Wilson's Phalarope and scrape progress

Yesterday was mad at work again. After spending upwards of 10 hours in theatre removing lumps, spaying cats, taking biopsies and putting a shattered leg back together, as I left work last night at 7.45pm, I decided I was definitely going to get a proper half day today and definitely going to go and see something. My pick of the available local birds was the Wilson's Phalarope, partly because it is years since I've seen one (1990 to be precise) and also because I enjoy phalaropes.
Mid-morning it looked like it was going to be the Lesser Grey Shrike at Leiston instead after the Phalarope had been reported to fly off but by noon the Phalarope was back and at 12.45 I shot out the door at work and headed north-west to Cley.
The Phalarope was on show on Pat's Pool in front of Bishop Hide when I arrived, almost the closest wader, feeding actively in the company of a Ruff or two. To me phalaropes have a certain poise and elegance about them that many other waders lack. Their enigmatic appearances also adds to their attraction as you can never be sure of seeing a phalarope in any given year. The rarity status of Wilson's Phalarope make in particularly special.
Whilst admiring the Wilson's , the whistling of Wigeon, the piping of Teal and the chilly, grey overcast conditions had a very wintry feel especially with the arrival of about 50 Pink-footed Geese. Summer is over it seems.
Moving on I called in at Walsey Hills to see the Red-backed Shrike there. It was feeding around a clump of ivy in the hedge that ran alongside the path. Presumably the dense ivy was the best place to find insects in the cold. It's been a good year for Red-backed Shrikes, this being my third so far.
With the arrival of rain I turned for home to check out the progress on our scrape before darkness fell. The piles of earth have finally been flattened, so from mountains :

We now have what looks like a ploughed field:

The rooks seemed to appreciate it at least. It will be intriguing to see what germinates from a long buried seed bank next spring although I suspect it will be mostly rush and coarse sedge.
The water control pipe still hasn't been installed unfortunately as the contractors are still waiting for the bend for one end to be delivered, however we can now start to raise the water level in the dyke to get some water on to the scrape.
A Little Egret was a pleasant surprise feeding along the muddy edge of the dyke behind the scrape. They were regular on our neighbours rushy pools before they dried out so it's good to have one on our land.
Meanwhile our swallows are feeding chicks. They could do with the return of some warmer weather if they're going to survive..
On an almost complete change of subject but with a birding connection, I took a few sheep to a Rare Breed Sale at Melton Mowbray at the weekend. One of my rams sold in the auction to a buyer who introduced himself to me afterwards. I asked him where he was from, he told me Lakenheath and it turns out he is the grazier for the RSPB reserve there. Should you go to Lakenheath and spot a Southdown ram, it'll be my Baby Nutter so called because he takes after his sire Nutter who was christened for his penchant for repeatedly ramming you. Fortunately Baby Nutter does it much more gently than his dad should you ever find yourself in his field. He does have a posher pedigree name by the way but somehow the name Baby Nutter stuck.

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