BIRD DIARY - FERRY MEADOWS

sand martinIn my note in June I rhapsodised about the influx of summer migrants. This year the stormy weather caused great disruption and it is widely thought that numbers of many species were down as a consequence. The full picture won’t be apparent until after the breeding season. One of the first arrivals, in late March onwards, is the Sand Martin and there are nesting boxes at  Ferry Meadows on Lynch Lake where you can watch the Martins catching insects on the wing and taking them to their young. 

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JULY BIRD DIARY - The Common Cuckoo

caterpillerLast month I wrote about the joys of seeing summer migrants from Africa, the most iconic being the Cuckoo with its distinctive call. Over the last 30 years or so, however, their numbers in Britain have dropped by 65% but the reasons for this are not known.  A lot is known about their breeding behaviour whereby they parasitise other birds, notably the Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Reed Warbler. So could changes in the numbers and breeding patterns of these birds be an influence ?

Research using breeding and nest survey data suggests not very much. So other explanations focus on a reduced supply of the Cuckoos’ food (mainly caterpillars) during the breeding season and worsening conditions on their migration routes and in their wintering grounds in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Click on the video to hear the cuckoo's call....

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BIRDING DIARY – SPRING MIGRATION

ospreyFor bird-watchers spring and autumn migrations are the most exciting times of the year. In late Winter- early Spring those birds that came to spend the winter in the UK from Scandinavia and the Arctic return north to breed. These include Redwings and Fieldfares, members of the Thrush family, which love coming into orchards for the windfall apples in the Autumn. When food is scarce in Scandinavia the UK also sees flocks of the beautiful Waxwings which are often seen in supermarket car parks feasting on the cotoneaster and pyracanthus berries.

A few years ago when the acorn harvest failed in Scandinavia hundreds of Jays were seen coming in off the North Sea over the cliffs at Hunstanton to find food in England. Common garden birds such as Chaffinch and Blackbird may not have been your regulars, because birds resident in the UK tend to move south in Winterand be replaced by visitors from Scandinavia too. Out on the Nene washes and Fen agricultural areas in Winter are Whooper Swans from Iceland,Bewick Swans from the Russian Arctic, Brent Geese from the Canadian Arctic and  Barnacle Geese from Greenland.

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