Two flew over the Bird Observatory

13 October 2015:

Christopher BridgeChristopher Bridge is now nearing the end of his stint as the resident bird ringer and ornithologist at the Landguard Bird Observatory. He is pictured here in an article for the Harrier publication. The article shows that his seemingly unbounded enthusiasm for his subject has led to various working adventures abroad including Iceland, Kenya, Norway and Spain. On home soil his experience includes ringing at Spurn Observatory and on Hillbury Island off the Lancashire coast. In an article in the Harrier publication it lists his amazing achievement of obtaining a first site record for the LBO in the shape of a White-tailed Eagle. Even more amazingly since then he has added another first site record when he spotted a Black Stork flying over. Considering detailed records have been kept at LBO since 1982 the boy done more than well!

Sea HideOn the 1 October the old Sea Hide door was teased open by Metalfix, a Rendlesham based metal engineering company. The doors hadn’t been opened since the late nineties. One of the doors had become completely jammed, it was explained that oxidation of the surfaces of the door edge and its frame had practically welded them together. The other door was taken away for renovation or as use as a template to make another one. This will depend on the way Historic England view it. The Hide hadn’t been entered since the late nineties but seemed less dank and dark than I had imagined it would feel on entering. Now that the building can be entered it can have a structural assessment to see what further works need undertaking to make it a functioning asset to the Nature Reserve and Landguard Partnership.

Sea HollyLast year a Sea Holly plant appeared in the space between the two main beach enclosures. I had been made aware previously that the only Sea Holly on the site was at its northerly location not far from Manor Terrace car park. This year I scoured the beach enclosures for further plants and to my surprise found six plants. There are probably two reasons for this, the first being the sand inundation a few years ago, as Sea Holly is found in more sandy locations. Also the more recent larger beach enclosure extending north where most of the plants were found may have protected the plants from trampling early on in their growth. I was surprised to see that several of the prickly plants had been grazed by Rabbits even having their growing seed heads chewed off. Three plants managed to successfully have several seed heads go to seed.

Long-eared OwlNigel Odin managed to get this photo of a Long-eared Owl that visited the site in September. An extract from the British Trust for Ornithology website informs us that "Ringing recoveries show Long-eared Owls that have travelled great distances to migrate. One such bird, ringed in Cumbria, was found 8 months later in the Mariy region in western Russia, 3,279km from its ringing site. However, the majority of foreign-ringed birds found here have come from Germany".

The Nature Reserve 'Bug and Beastie Hunt' unfortunately had to be postponed to the following week due to bad weather. The following week the weather still wasn’t great but the drizzle cleared just in time for the event.

'Bug and Beastie Hunt'Participants enjoyed catching a Grasshopper and other bugs, making Butterfly or Bee masks, getting close up with some invertebrates from the pond and completing the Bug Trail and Quiz. Did you know that one of the ways to tell a Field Grasshopper from a Meadow Grasshopper is to see if it has a hairy chest or not?

Vandals were present on the Reserve one night in August. They removed around seventy metres of expensive rope that formed part of the permanent conservation enclosure at The Point and pulled out six posts from the temporary beach enclosure at The Point none of which were recovered. Teenagers were seen leaving the site in the morning passing the Stinking Goosefoot enclosure where they stopped and cut the enclosure rope six times. When they grow up I hope that they will cringe in the memory of their actions because that will at least mean that they have developed some kind of conscience.

Tree SparrowsI was glad that Nigel Odin had informed me that a group of Tree Sparrows had been recorded at the Bird Observatory as I thought that they might join the House Sparrows on the Bungalow bird feeders. Sure enough two days later they were queuing up to get on the feeders. Against their House Sparrow cousins they looked noticeably smaller and with brighter plumage apart from anything else but if I hadn’t been keeping a special eye for them, quite easily overlooked at least by me any way!

An RSPB extract lets us know that "The UK tree sparrow population has suffered a severe decline, estimated at 93 per cent between 1970 and 2008. However, recent Breeding Bird Survey data is encouraging, suggesting that numbers may have started to increase, albeit from a very low point".

Lastly a huge thanks to the Landguard Bird Observatory volunteers for helping take down the beach enclosure on Monday 5 October. Thanks also to volunteer local man Martin Lees for the use of his trailer and Reserve volunteer local man Mike Williams.

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