Thursday, 17 October 2013

NWT Upton Broad & Marshes: late summer

Nigel Robson, Volunteer Bird Recorder for NWT and Mark Crossfield, NWT assistant warden for Bure and Ant

July may be regarded as a quiet month for observing birds at Upton whilst the special flora and insect life in the reserve provide much to see. On the grazing marshes the breeding activities of waders are over but some ducks may have recently-hatched broods. These are usually well concealed within the dyke system, and their presence is more often suspected than proved. However, a female shoveler was seen with 11 ducklings on 21st. By this date the autumn passage of waders was underway, as well as post-breeding dispersal. The same day, for example, produced a group of lapwings, an avocet, an oystercatcher, two redshanks, three green sandpipers, two common sandpipers and one dunlin on the marshes. On 24th a wood sandpiper and two greenshanks were at the river lagoons, followed next day by a curlew. 

Photograph by Mark Crossfield showing the wet marshes with Upton Mill in the background.

Evidence of light passage continued throughout August, but by this time the extended period of very dry and hot weather had depleted the area of standing water and opportunities for waders to feed. With the water levels high in the dykes an autumn maximum of five green sandpipers were counted on 3rd. Management work to improve the water retention of the eastern (Boat Dyke) marshes continues with some 40 snipe moved in arriving, accompanied by three ruff, one golden plover and a green sandpiper. A wheatear appeared on 29th, favouring bare ground around cattle pens.

In early September, the marsh hedgerows contained a few warblers on passage. A small group seen on 8th included whitethroats, a lesser whitethroat, a garden warbler and some chiffchaffs. On 11th a bittern flushed from the developing reedswamp at the river lagoons, and subsequently it was seen regularly in the marsh dykes until the month end. Boat Dyke Marshes continued to attract waders, with a flock of black-tailed godwits arriving – seven on 16th, five on 17th, and 11 on 18th when a separate group of three bar- tailed godwits was also present. Godwits have been rarely recorded at the reserve. We have previously noted black-tails only once, a flock of 19 in flight following the river in February 2009, and bar-tails very occasionally on the marshes with whimbrel during the spring passage. A skein of 40 pink-footed geese on 17th was an early reminder of the winter ahead. 

1 comment:

  1. I've heard bearded tits a couple of times now in the reeds on the South Walsham side.