Harbour Update – posted 19/06/15

There is some sad news to start with unfortunately. It seems the third pair (the original alpha female) of Marsh Harriers have also failed to raise young this year. You may remember a few weeks ago that we stated the male that was servicing two of the three nesting females had disappeared which resulted in the beta female abandoning her nestlings. Well it seems the alpha female also found it too much of a struggle to raise the young on her own, and hasn’t been seen visiting the nest site for many many hours of observing. This year held so much promise with what looked like another record year panning out. We’re also hoping there is nothing suspicious in the disappearance of the male, and that it was just one of those things, but we’ll be keep everything crossed that next year another male arrives, settles and successfully raises young with one or a number of females. Both the alpha and beta females can still be found hunting in the harbour, commuting between Hartland, Swineham and Lytchett Bay. Talking of Lytchett Bay, a large gathering of Redshank has been congregating over the last few days with one or two juvenile birds among them. We’re not 100% sure, but it could be that these young were raised on site, proving how productive the area has become over the last few years. Also present 12 Teal, 9 Gadwall and 6 Black-tailed Godwit. There were still at least 2 Cuckoo on Slepe Heath along with plenty of Nightjar at dusk at a Hobby. There were 2 Spotted Flycatcher along Soldiers Road and a two family parties of Woodlark along there too.

My night recording work in the lower Frome Valley has been steady with no obvious signs of movement or migration yet. I’m expecting to record both Common and Green Sandpiper any night now, but so far the only moving waders I’ve experienced are Curlew moving up and down the Valley. There is still the occasional calling/displaying Lapwing and Redshank throughout the night and a nice host of regulars. Below are two recordings that have actually been very regular on all the nights I’ve set my gear up. The first is contact calls of Nightjar. Its well documented that Nightjar can often feed up to 5-15 km away from their nesting sites to go and feed, with river valleys, open meadows and even farmland selected as their favoured sites. Whilst feeding over these areas they produce a distinctive croaking co-ick call, which can be heard as they make their way up and down the habitat feeding. The other call is a fly over Water Rail, which produces a fairly high-pitched trill that starts high and descends ever so slightly towards the end.

Nightjar – contact call whilst feeding – Lower Frome Valley 


Water Rail – Flight call of a bird moving at night – Lower Frome Valley

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