At our February indoor meeting Ieuan Evans gave us the up-to-the-minute info on the valuable work of the British Trust for Ornithology on bird migration. For probably hundreds of years the destination of many of our nesting birds in winter was a complete mystery. It was once believed that swallows spent the winter in the bottom of ponds! Much of the rapid increase in our knowledge has come from the practice of ringing birds, and we now know where many species spend our winter. Although ringing allowed us to find the final destination of migrants, the route they took to get there was mostly guesswork. So the much more effective, but also much more expensive, technique of satellite tracking is now used to plot the exact routes. Famously the BTO has used satellite tags to plot the migration of Cuckoos. We now know that some male birds may remain in the UK for as little as 5 weeks, and that they take a variety of routes to reach their principal destination in the Congo rainforest. The birds move into West Africa before they make the return journey. It is thought they are making use of the drought-busting rains in the area, feeding up on the clouds of insects released but keeping ahead of the heaviest rains. This has been christened ‘surfing the green wave’. You can follow the travels of the tagged Cuckoos on Twitter – twitter@_BTO
A bright sunny February morning greeted the 21 WVBS members who assembled at Horsey Mill, and astonishingly we “bagged” our target bird COMMON CRANE within two minutes of starting our walk. The year listers amongst us were highly delighted with a two CRANE flypast. Soon seven deer were seen walking right. ”Chinese Water Deer called several members. “No” came a shout “Red Deer”. “No way”comes another shout, “Fallow Deer”. It would appear WVBS members are in need of a Deer Identification Course. We encountered two Otters playing by the dam, and hares bouncing around in the fields. After the walk we moved to the sand dunes at Waxham to look at the sea. Best birds here were the Purple Sandpipers hiding among the artificial reefs. Later in the day we repaired to Hickling Broad to walk down to Stubbs Mill for the Raptor Roost. The light was fabulous as we stood in the now perishing cold. Raptor after raptor filled the sky, and shot at speed along the tops of the reeds. Peregrine, Merlin, lots of Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, female Hen Harrier, and the most beautiful male Hen Harrier, his silver and black wings glinting in the late afternoon sun. Four WHOOPER SWANS “whooped” overhead. But the highlight had to be a pair of “dancing” CRANES. We ended the day with the same birds as we started with.
Future events: Indoor meetings are held at Great Witchingham Village Hall, Lenwade, at 7.30pm. All are welcome. (There is a £2.00 charge for non-members) Thursday 20th April – Gibraltar Flyway by Jake Gearty. Thursday 18th May – Dove Step (Turtle doves) by Jonny Rankin
Field trips: Sunday 23rd April – Morning walk at Thorpe Marshes, Norwich. Sunday 7th May – very early Dawn Chorus walk starting at 4.15am.
For more details and information contact Sue Gale – email@example.com