Sunday 24 June 2012

Dodging the showers

My alarm was set for 4.30 this morning, with a  plan to go ringing. I didn't even need to get out of bed to realise that ringing wasn't an option as the rain was hammering off the window.

So, a more leisurely start to my morning, sauntering down to the patch for 11ish to the WeBS count and have a nosey about. I had to dodge the showers though, heavy showers, arriving one after the other from the north.

I was heartened to see that two of the County's scarcer breeding duck species had produced broods of ducklings; shoveler (one brood of four) and gadwall (at least two broods, one of nine - maybe a quarter size and a brood of four tiny ducklings not long out of the egg). Gadwall are becoming much more common, but shoveler only breed at a few sites each year. It was nice to add a hunting marsh harrier to the WeBS count too.

It is difficult to tell exactly how the waders have done this year as the vegetation is so high. I've counted a handful of lapwing chicks, a pair of oystercatchers were behaving like a nesting pair a week or two ago, they've vanished and the snipe?  It's impossible to say.

The Exmoor ponies grazing the Budge fields have been better than nothing but not ideal, they are too selective. What NWT need now is some big hairy cows to chomp the rank grass, flatten the rush and eat the vegetation in the pools. If they get them on in the next couple of weeks, we might get to see some passage waders.

I had begun to think great-crested grebe were going to evade my 2012 patch-list. Once much more common at Druridge, they've become trickier in recent years so I was pleased to see a pair out on the big pool.

record shot of great-crested grebe in awful light
I've got the day of work tomorrow so hope to give the patch a bit a flogging and if the light is better, have a play with the new camera.

120 Great-crested grebe

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