Sunday, 2 October 2016

2nd of October: Wildfowl marks the arrival of Autumn

It’s been a real mixed-weather week on the Point from bright, calm sunny days to afternoons where over 100ml of rain fell. We’ve had fairly strong consistent Westerly winds (average 14mph) which have really whipped the sea up with ‘white horses’ far into the horizon.
The impact of this strong sea on the Point has been felt as we experienced sand being eroded away from Far Point leaving our fence line high and dry and hide undercut. Rangers this week repaired the fence line and removed the hide to prevent further damage over winter.
Mostly westerly winds have slowed passerine migration down but throughout the week we have consistently had Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush and Black Redstart. An exciting addition this week has been the return of Lapland Bunting, an irregular autumn migrant, often heard but rarely seen on the ground. The highest count of Bunting so far this week has been 18 on the 2nd October in Great Sandy Low.

                                                                 Lapland Bunting on the shingle ridge – 31st September (Daniel Wynn)

Today (Sunday 2nd October) we had our first spell of strong Northerly winds and boy did it produce. In just 1 hour our rangers recorded 445 Gannet and 234 Guillemot along with Razorbill, Puffin, Manx and Sooty Shearwater, Great and Arctic Skua, Red Throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Velvet Scoter. Other notables seen near the Cley end of the reserve include Grey Phalarope and Long Tailed Skua. Wildfowl are now more notable in the harbour too as we shift from summer to autumn, including high numbers of Pink Footed Geese, Teal, Wigeon and Pintail.

Pink Footed Geese fly past Blakeney Church – 29th September (Daniel Wynn)
We’ve also seen our first flurry of autumnal thrushes and finches arriving with the northerlies as we recorded Redwing, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Brambling in the bushes.

The cold weather and strong winds have really impacted moth numbers but we tried moth trapping anyway on a slightly calmer night. On the 30th September we only had 4 species in the trap but 2 of which were new for the year, including Lunar Underwing and Feathered Ranunculus.
                                                      Feathered Ranunculus – 30th September (Wynona Legg)

Butterfly numbers across the reserve remain low but we still regularly see Red Admiral, Brown Argus and Small Tortoiseshell. Small Coppers appear to be having a 3rd brood this year, which seems to be more successful than the previous 2 attempts. You can now regularly see them in the dunes near the gap.
Our latest seal count on 30th September recorded 541 Common and 128 Grey Seals. The Grey Seal numbers may seem low but in reality they reflect a natural cycle whereby prior to breeding season, the seals disappear out to sea and then return a few weeks later. In the coming few weeks as we move closer toward breeding season for Grey Seals, their numbers will start increasing dramatically.
As usual if you have any great experiences or any unusual wildlife sightings on the Point or anywhere on the North Norfolk Coast on National Trust land, please do tell us. We would love to hear from you.
Until next time!

Blakeney Point Ranger Team