Monday, 14 March 2011

Between Seasons

We are between seasons at the moment, both in respect of wildlife and the weather. Some days it wants to be Spring and others it still seems like winter and the wildlife that you see echos that same mixture. In my garden pond today, the frogs finally re-appeared heralding Spring at last. They are late this year and I thought perhaps I had lost them to the very cold winter but they're back at last, all twenty plus of them. (This photo is fun if you double click on it and enlarge it)

Going back a couple of days, on Saturday I walked round the reserve on a pleasantly warm and sunny morning and it was clear how fast the surface of the marsh was now drying out, until of course we had the wet afternoon that was yesterday.
But on Saturday there was once again that reminder of the two seasons mixture. As I sat near the Seawall Hide listening to Skylarks singing overhead, watching the rolling and tumbling courtship flights of several pairs of Lapwings and some Tufted Ducks swimming along The Delph fleet, in to land in the Flood came a total of 180 White-fronted Geese.

In recent years we have tended to retain a flock of these lovely winter visitors often into April and its often strange to see them alongside Lapwings on their nests. This small section of the flock shows how alert and wary they remain all the time.

Further along the reserve, at the seaward end of the "Gravel Road" that leads down from Harty Church, that other winter visitor the Hooded Crow, was still there with a large flock of his cousins the Carrion Crows.
Just to complete that mixed bag on Saturday, I made a point of walking across some of the grazing marsh and was able to find the first two newly created Lapwing nest scrapes, so egg laying can't be far away.

Yesterday late afternoon I took my place as one of the Harrier Roost Count team on Harty, for the last of this year's counts until October. It was to be a disappointing visit because despite standing in continuous light rain for an hour and a half as the dusk set in and getting soaked, I saw absolutely no harriers. I have too say that that is very unusual for the site that I was watching but I have no explanation for it. It will be interesting to see what the other counts achieved.

Finally, as I made my back along a sunny Harty Road earlier this morning I had two enjoyable sightings, no, not the first Wheatear unfortunately. The first was the sight of a large flock of Starlings carrying out some of that amazing formation flying that they are famous for and this morning it was for a reason. Diving through them a few times was a Peregrine Falcon and despite how densely packed the flock was, it was not successful in catching one and finally gave up and dropped down on a distant fence post on the marsh.
Secondly, on the overhead wires along the road, the regular Corn Bunting flock was assembled, numbering 48 in all. This time however, at least half of them were singing, or jangling their keys, all at the same time. That's an unusual sound, normally you only hear Corn Buntings singing as solitary birds announcing their territory on a fence post somewhere.
The downside of this was the fact that the buntings were only about 80 yds away and my camera was alongside me in the car but I didn't think about it until half way home!


  1. Another very enjoyable post Derek and you painted the scene beautifully with your words as well as your camera. It was fun to see the frogs in your pond. I was hoping to see some while out yesterday but was unlucky.

    What a shame you didn't get a photo of the Corn Buntings, I'm sure you were kicking yourself about that.

    Sorry your Harrier count was unproductive...and wet! We had glorious sunshine all afternoon yesterday :)

  2. Thanks Jan, we keep getting false dawns re. this Spring but nothing substantial. Today was typical, sunny till 10.00 and then the rest of the day cold and grey.

  3. I assume that the photos are with the new camera Derek ? Are you pleased with it ?
    No doubt you will be making the most of it over the forthcoming weeks for springtime on the wide open spaces on the marshes is unbeatable.
    Loved the frogs.
    Ken L

  4. Ken,
    Yes it was the new camera but I'm still trying to get the hang of it properly, especially the saving to PC. I'll never be an expert but hopefully it will get a bit better.

  5. That is a real orgy of frogs in the first photo. My little pond will be lucky to have even a pair, but not for another month or so - it is still frozen solid right now.

  6. Wilma,
    Nice to hear from you again. I guess compared with your weather over there ours is quite balmy, but by English standards we are having a depressing early Spring. It remains consistently dull and cold with just a few sunny days in between and as I write this at 07.20 this morning we have thick mist and very low temperatures - not much, if any, birdwatching to be done today!