Monday, 27 April 2015

Songs of Spring

Spring has officially arrived at Holkham National Nature Reserve. The woodlands to the east of the reserve are filled with the tuneful calling of singing Wrens, the melodic crescendo of Sedge Warblers, and my personal favourite, the whistle of Long-Tailed Tits. It is therefore very exciting that the warden team has conducted the reserve’s first ever woodland bird survey. 

Reed Bunting have a distinctive three-note territorial call.

The area near Pinewoods caravan park was chosen because of its range of habitats in such a small area. While predominately pine, the route also includes birch, scrub and water margins. This dense environment makes it very difficult to see small birds, therefore we have to rely on bird song to identify species. 

 The woods are alive with bird song, especially in the early morning.

The identification of birds through their call is an extremely difficult task. Birds often have multiple and very different calls depending on their situation. Being able to distinguish them takes skill and patience. Luckily for us our resident ornithologist Andy Bloomfield is one such man! Our first survey was a great success and we counted 23 Wren, 3 Goldcrest, 16 Chiffchaff, 3 Treecreeper, 1 Greater Spotted Woodpecker and 3 Blackcap to name but a few!

The Treecreeper's other name is Tree Mouse 
as it is thought to resemble a mouse hopping up a tree.

The survey will be repeated at different times throughout the year, enabling us to assemble a picture of this otherwise overlooked part of the reserve.


Holkham Warden

Friday, 24 April 2015

You Quack Me Up!

This week marked the first of our drake surveys and to maintain my professional integrity I’m going to keep away from any duck-based puns, besides they are not all they're quacked up to be!

Shoveler are unmistakable thanks to their large spatula bills.

The grazing marsh at Holkham is an important habitat for nesting wildfowl, especially ducks. The tufty vegetation of shallow ponds really fits the bill for nesting Mallards, Teal and Gadwall. 

Shoveler have been seen working together in groups while
 feeding on the reserve.They rotate, stirring up the water and 
skimming the surface for crustaceans and plankton. 
As we set off across the fields from Lady Anne’s Drive the foul weather set in but rather than wader till it passed we decided to wing it.  We were initially worried after only finding a poultry number of breeding pairs. Things quickly picked up however and in total we counted 209 Mallard, 132 Teal, 76 Shoveler, 61 Gadwall, 32 Tufted duck, 28 Wigeon, 27 Pochard and a lonely Gargany on Holkham NNR. While Ei-der preferred to have seen some Pintails the survey went swimmingly! I’m sure you’re all a-grebe, that’s quite the duck count! Things are looking good for the duck population this year.

Right I’m done. I'm going to swan out of here!


Holkham Warden