Every week 2 members from the WVBS take a walk around Pensthorpe Natural Park and record every species that they have seen / heard and how many they have seen. This is submitted into our recorder, David Gibbons, and he collates all the data and sends it on to the County Recorder.
Below are the results from the recent monitoring visits, including a short summary from members.
Tuesday 30th November.
A mild (8 to 11 C) overcast day with rain showers in the middle of the day and a brisk SW wind. Water levels were high but the flooded edge of Old Squaw Lake had Lapwing, Common Snipe and a single Black-tailed Godwit. A good day for herons, with several sightings of Grey Heron, Little Egret and Cattle Egret (at least 2, possibly 4 birds - 7 were reported the day before) and, best of all, a Bittern in the reeds opposite Wader Scrape Hide East. The Bittern was first picked out by Steve while scanning the reedbed with a thermal imaging camera and it then obligingly came to the edge, giving us a great view. Today the only goose in great numbers were 200+ Greylag, with only a handful of Canada, Barnacle, Pink-footed & Egyptian. Gadwall topped the list of ducks with 138, 45 Shoveler, 44 Mallard, 36 Tufted, 33 Teal and a single Mandarin. 3 Water Rail and still big counts of Coot with 155. Raptors, several species today, 3 Red Kite, 1 Marsh Harrier, 4 Buzzard & 1 Sparrowhawk. Other birds of note, 15 Redwing, 8 Siskin, 2 Kingfisher & 1 Cetti’s. 63 species in all. Many thanks to Steve Connor & David Laurie.
Saturday 11th December.
It was a crisp, frosty morning and we managed to see 58 species. We started the morning off from the car park with a stunning sunrise, we saw a male and female Sparrowhawk gliding through the car park in the orange light from the sunrise. We saw a Great White Egret on the Old Squaw Lake and then another one at the Wader Scrape - we are assuming they are different birds? Redwing and Fieldfare were both present as well as 7 Goldcrests hopping around in the trees. The winter thrushes mentioned numbered 14 Redwing & 30 Fieldfare. Lower numbers of ducks, on this occasion, with only 63 Gadwall, 23 Tufted, 23 Teal but 2 Goldeneye. In addition to the Sparrowhawks mentioned, 1 Red Kite, 6 Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harrier were also noted. Other herons seen were 2 Grey Heron & 1 Little Egret. 2 each of Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers recorded. Only 1 Water Rail today along with 3 Cetti’s, 2 Little Grebe, 11 Siskin & a single Nuthatch. Mammals seen were Grey Squirrel & Muntjac Deer. Thank you, Emily & Nick, for your records.
Tuesday 14th December.
To-day Barry and I started our walk a little later at 9.00am on an overcast but reasonably warm day. No sooner had we started than a young lady staff member told us about 7 Cattle Egrets that were with the Aberdeen Angus herd in a field behind the workshop, so we had high hopes. There were a couple of very smart Pintail on the new scrape with a couple of Wigeon and a Great White Egret flew in to the Fakenham end.The water levels were still very high as expected. A Marsh Tit at the Woodland Hide was wearing some very nice coloured rings; red over BTO on the right leg and green over blue on the left leg, so hopefully Gary Elton will be able to identify when it was ringed and where. The very useful footpath diversion at the end of the woodland allowed us a view of the lake to the south which held 7 Goldeneye; 6 female and 1 male. Earlier there had been 4 at the New Scrape; one male, one juvenile male and two female. Viewing the field over to the right on the way to the Old Scrape there were two Red Kites sitting in an oak tree and one Pink-Footed Goose with about 50 Greylags and a couple of Water Rails squealing by the river, while there were at least two Cetti’s Warblers singing around the Old Scrape. On the way back from the hide we could see the top of the field where the Aberdeen Angus were and managed distant views of three of the Cattle Egrets among the cows. In addition to the above, gulls were in good numbers with 65 Black-headed, 75 Common & 36 Herring. Other herons included 3 Little Egret & 5 Grey Heron. 3 Buzzard & 1 Kestrel recorded along with the red Kite mentioned. Great Spotted Woodpecker were out in force today with a count of 5. 4 Siskin, & singles of Lesser Redpoll & Stonechat. 60 species in total. Many thanks to Barry and Ian.
Monday 20th December.
We started later than normal expecting mist and fog but, although dull and overcast, the day was reasonably clear. There was a near total lack of bird song. A brief snatch from a Cetti’s Warbler and a Robin was the sum total. It was good to note that the water level had gone down on the Scrape leaving distinct islands. Waterfowl were in good numbers with c.350 Teal, 95 Tufty, 88 Gadwall and nearly 150 Coot, but only 4 Wigeon. The 9 Goldeneye may not all have been true wild birds but the 6, a drake and 5 females on the lake besides the bypass around the flooded water meadow were very skittish. Another highlight was 3 species of Egret, a first for me in Norfolk. There has been up to 8 Cattle Egrets but we only managed to find 5 with the Aberdeen Angus near the centre then 3 flew in to the Longhorns near the Scrape coming from the direction of the centre. One actually landed on the back of one of the cattle. There were also single Little and Great White Egrets.
Raptors included single Red Kite & Kestrel, 2 Marsh Harrier & 2 Buzzard. Other ducks of note were 140 Mallard & 6 Pintail. A single Water Rail seen today along with 3 Grey Heron, a solitary Kingfisher & flying down the valley a mere 17 Pink-footed Geese. 56 species. Again, our thanks go to Paul & Ray.