Monday, 22 April 2013

Spring in the Fens


Nick Carter, Conservation Officer (Fens)

Despite the run of relatively dry weather we have had recently it is still too wet to finish off the wetland construction work at Hilgay. There is positive news in that some fencing work has been done which will allow us to graze parts of the site to get the vegetation under control, ready for reed planting later this year. Although reeds are colonising the site rapidly planting of reed plugs will speed up the establishment of the reedbed.

Little ringed plover, photo by Nick Appleton
Although construction work has not been finished birds are already using the site.  At least three little ringed plovers, which bred successfully last year, have returned and are displaying. Several pairs of lapwing are already established and oystercatchers and redshank are also present. Last week sand martins were hawking for insects over the storage lagoon and it is hoped they will breed again in the sandy ditches that they used last year.  A second brood of Egyptian geese with seven young goslings were spotted in the lagoon (the first brood present in March were only seen once) and there was a pair each of tufted duck and gadwall, along with numerous mallard and shelduck.

Herons from the small, adjacent heronry were using the lagoon for fishing but there was no sign of the usual little egrets. A new species for the site, red kite was being mobbed by a crow before it drifted off south. One had been noted in the area by two observers and it follows on the heels of a first sighting of a male hen harrier hunting over the Hilgay site a few weeks before. Nightingale have already been heard in the area but last year’s bird on the Methwold site has not yet returned.

Red kite, photo by Lawrie Webb

The bulk of the summer migrants have still to return but it is hoped with the warmer weather that these will arrive over the next few weeks.

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