Thursday, 14 October 2010

Right place. Right time.

Sub-dividing the east scrape at Minsmere should allow for better water control and help to alleviate the early drying of recent summers.  Lower: a ridiculously tame Red-flanked Bluetail photographed with my mobile phone.

Just occasionally work is in the right place at the right time. This week was one of those times. A review of the scrapes at Minsmere has identified some changes to improve the hydrology. I stopped off to look at how work was progressing, with the added bonus of the King Eider bobbing up and down off-shore. Then, on to the Hickling area to take a look at Bittern and Crane nesting locations. Nearby, a highly successful reedbed restoration project was undertaken by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust nearly ten years ago. Commercial reed-cutting is often considered incompatible with conservation objectives by site managers. However, I have never gone along with this view and Hickling shows how this can be achieved through a careful mix of commercial (short rotation) and conservation (longer rotation) reed-cutting. The key issue for Bitterns is the need to reduce water levels for reed-cutting in the early part of the year (Jan-Mar) at just the time when they require higher water levels to provide good feeding conditions to bring them through the winter and into breeding condition. However, cut compartments are favoured by nesting Cranes and a mosaic of cut and uncut blocks are ideal for Bearded Tits.

Stunning views of two birds at nearby Waxham rounded off an enjoyable couple of days – a Pallas’s Warbler hovering 3 metres in front of me and a Red-flanked Bluetail feeding around my feet.

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