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Thursday 30 May 2013


I'm not the confrontational type, so let me make it plain at the start: I only offer a few musings about how my local RSPB reserves prioritise their activities: I'm NOT criticising any of the wonderful full-time and voluntary wardens, who probably play only a tiny part in strategic planning.

During my nearly daily walks around Strumpshaw & Buckenham, I frequently meet new visitors to the twin reserves. Almost always, these express disappointment at the low numbers of bird species they have seen. Few are fortunate enough to glimpse a Bittern, Kingfisher, Water Rail or Hobby, the only dependable species being Marsh Harrier. The most frequent adverse comments are these:
1) The hide at Buckenham is far too far from the scrape to be of any value except to shelter from the rain
2) Water levels are too high to encourage passage waders
3) Weekends are often crowded: weekdays there always seem to be working parties cutting scrub or reeds
4) The vast expanses of reed beds and hidden channels are inaccessible and could be dripping with Kingfishers / Bearded Tits / Savi's Warblers / Penduline Tits  (and Bitterns!) but the casual visitor would be very lucky indeed to see any of these.

As a 52-week regular, I know how good the reserve is: if I go a week without seeing anything special, I can generally assume I'll make up for this with something crippling sooner or later (I've seen Savi's, Red-backed Shrike, Honey Buzzard, Montagu's, a flock of 70+ Black Terns, Caspian Tern, numerous Ospreys etc etc)
But it's my belief that the majority of visiting birders (as opposed to walkers, family groups and so on) go away slightly disapponted.

Wouldn't the money apparently ear-marked for a new two-tier Fen Hide be better spent on a wader scrape with a water level maintained at a depth that would encourage passage & breeding waders and Egrets? Or on a bridge and new hide at Lackford Run? Remember: the RSPB is a charity: we members pay a lot towards the rental, administration and maintenance of the reserves. Perhaps we might be consulted at local meetings?

Wednesday 29 May 2013


What shocking weather! Looks like Summer fell on a Sunday this year!
A walk around the Fen produced only a Common Sandpiper and saturated clothing! Still: back home for stunning views of the Turtles: just noticed the larger one (female?) has a damaged tail.... Wonder if it's a souvenir of Malta?

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Duxford weekend!

Well: we do have to make a living! We were at IWM Duxford for the first airshow of the year - but the drive down turned up a year-tick in the way of a White Stork over the A11 (south of Barton Mills) Other birds included several Little Egrets and Buzzards. The Turtles have settled in and have adopted a regular feeding routine....

Saturday 25 May 2013

Turtle update

I don't want to bore or grip anyone off, but I think it's important to chronicle the activities of these increasingly scarce Summer visitors: our only migratory Dove.
Today the male has established a chosen 'purring station' and is caling almost continuously: it's a lovely sound!

Friday 24 May 2013

Two Turtles

Here are the first images I've taken of the pair together: what an absolute thrill to have these beautiful birds back in the garden!

We have a pair!

A smaller, darker Turtle Dove has joined the first arrival: presumably this is a male. Anyhow: most welcome - we had worried that 'our' Turtles were the star item on a Maltese menu!

Thursday 23 May 2013

Monty's!!! He shoots! He scores!

Finally!!!! Having glimpsed this elusive Yare Valley tick on at least two occasions, Brian, Kim & I finally connected (albeit at long range) No doubt Brian's pics will be better than mine, but at least they're conclusive.
Other birds included a second Turtle in the garden this morning, four Bullfinches by the gate at Strump and a couple of Buzzards at Buck. In front of Fen Hide, a Coot was busy robbing a Swan's nest!

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Hmmmmmmm...... LOL!

Today I spent three hours (from 9.30 until 12.30) at Buckenham: I saw a Hobby, four Buzzards, three Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, three Marsh Harriers and even a Peregrine, so I didn't miss much. So, to say the least, I was surprised to see a Monty's reported on BIS when I got home. I'm intrigued to know who claimed it, not the least because one of the Marshies was in moult and looked very 'long tailed'.

Other 'highlights' included the Sedge Warbler, still at it from his chosen perch, a GSW headbanging on an electricity pole and, at Strumpshaw, two Common Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper flying upstream along the Yare.

Buzzard & Peregrine

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Blowy Buckenham!

In the garden this morning there were over twenty corvids at one point!

A couple of hours at Buckenham was nearly as unproductive as yesterday: the strong, cool winds again keeping everything low. There were a few highlights: good views of a Cuckoo halfway to the windpump, two Egrets over from the other side of the river, the Sedgie still singing from his favoured perch and a Lapwing that swooped down to within inches of my head!

As I drove up from the station this brightly coloured Harrier was quartering the 'Hare Field': its well-marked head put me in mind of a Pallid, but I think it's yet another abberant Marshie....

I have to say: I'd love to know who's reporting some of the birds at Buckenham that appear on BIS: I was there from 10.30 until 12.30 today: there were no other cars or people, apart from an elderly couple with a spaniel.

Monday 20 May 2013

The Boys are Back in Town!

Actually, I think it might be a girl! Anyhow: for the eighth straight year we have a Turtle Dove visiting the garden! Fingers crossed that a partner appears....

The downside of our heavy feeding strategy is the number of Corvids that are attracted: this morning this Magpie killed and ate one of our fledgeling Blackbirds.

A walk around Buckenham produced nothing new, just a nice shot of a Sedge Warbler.