Friday, 8 August 2014

Summer marsh round-up

Its been a quietish summer on the marshes here but the warm weather seems to have suited the local birds. We located 2 broods of Marsh Harriers for wing-tagging for the Hawk and Owl trust project and although we were sure there was a third brood out there somewhere, much searching by the ringer came to nothing. Seven chicks were wing-tagged (PP,PR,PS,PT,PV,PX and NV) in the nests we found but the first to take to the air were untagged, confirming our suspicions.

 At least 9 young Marsh Harriers fledged isn't bad at all. An outbreak of myxomatosis in the local rabbit population probably helped keep the chicks well fed as there were a lot of sick bunnies sitting out in the open this summer, easy prey for hunting birds. The local Kestrels fledged at least 2 broods of chicks too, and the Sparrowhawks nesting in our wood presumably fledged recently too with less than expert fliers appearing above the trees in the last few days. Hobbies have probably bred very locally too as they've been very noisy in a particular group of trees and regularly mobbing Buzzards that fly over this area. Its likely the Buzzards were nesting in the same group of trees and also had to put up with being harried by the Marsh Harriers when they came across the marshes. The Hobbies have been putting in regular appearances over the garden lately probably in pursuit of young swallows which seem to be heading south following the edge of the valley where our house sits.
Strange squeaky noises coming from our wood proved to be young Tawny Owls when I tracked down their source one night, and Barn Owls have been busy quartering the marshes for voles which have then been carried off in two different directions suggesting 2 nests somewhere in the vicinity. I've yet to see any youngsters though.
Our scrape has had a small, slow trickle of waders through in July, mostly Green Sandpipers. It started to dry out so we put some more water on, only for us to be deluged with rain filling it to the brim just as wader passage reached its peak locally. We've finally got mud again which has attracted in small numbers of Snipe, and 3 Greenshanks dropped by earlier this week. Ruff, Grey Plover and Little Ringed Plover have also been fly by visitors over the last 2 months. The scrapes themselves have been colonised by a variety of water plants, most notably Frogbit, and presumably small fish as they seem popular with Grey Herons and Little Egrets. It will be interesting to see how the new foot drains develop over the next year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alison!
    I've followed your blog for ages: I find it really entertaining and inspirational!
    Fancy a reciprocal link to mine?