Sunday, 8 June 2014

Marsh round-up

It's been a while since I posted about comings and goings on the marshes. The past 6 weeks have seen much activity. One of the highlights has been the successful fledging of 2 Lapwing chicks last week and 2 Redshank chicks today. Our original 6 Lapwing chicks were whittled down to 2, almost certainly by a Stoat which my husband saw in the vicinity of one brood as the parents desperately dive-bombed it. We were never sure how many Redshank chicks we had as they were mostly invisible in the grass, their presence only revealed by the anxious calling of their parents as we passed by. I only ever saw one, most notably when I let the cows on to the marsh for the first time. The excited heifers did several laps of the marsh before charging on to the muddy margin of the scrape where, to my horror, I spotted a chick running as fast as it could in front of 56 rapidly closing cow hooves. Somehow it managed to dodge the feet including those of one cow that stopped to sniff it, and today it, and a previously hidden sibling, took their first flights from the scrape.
The first Hobby arrived back on the 29th April and have been seen almost daily since. For a few days a pair were using a telegraph post positioned at the head of 4 dykes on the marsh as a convenient vantage point to sally forth and grab newly emerging (probably Hairy) dragonflies. Fortunately for the Norfolk Hawkers which have just started appearing from the same dykes, the Hobbies seem to have changed their hunting behaviour.
Last year, I only heard Cuckoo on 3 occasions. This year, after their arrival on 27th April, I've heard them almost daily and there was still one calling this evening. Others have reported more Cuckoo activity this year and that's definitely the case here.
Much to my relief, our Turtle Doves reappeared on 25th May. The males soft purring gave me a lovely background soundtrack as I prepared sheep for the Suffolk Show over the Bank Holiday weekend and he was still going strong today. Yesterday I saw another locally at the Hillfield plant nursery and PYO so we seem to be in a good area for them. The Marsh Harriers are doing well too. It's almost impossible to scan the marshes without seeing one as they're now busy feeding chicks.
Other highlights have included a Black-tailed Godwit on our scrape, although soon driven off by the Lapwings doing a very good avocet-like act, and any time out in the garden is regularly enlivened by a strident peep as a Kingfisher announces it dashing presence along the dyke at the bottom of the garden. We have a family of Water Voles here too, who seem to be very tame and will munch unconcernedly on Water Soldiers while you watch

Flowers are starting to put on a show too with vibrant yellow flag iris in various places

The Common Spotted Orchids are appearing too both on the marsh and in our orchard

And the warm weather has brought out an increasing variety of dragonflies in addition to those mentioned above with Variable and Azure Damselflies, Four-spot Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer.

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