Wildlife review of 2018 at the Mid Yare Valley reserves
This year has seen vast contrasts in weather conditions, from the freezing cold March right through to the (joint) hottest on record, these conditions have affected the resident and migrant bird populations in 2018. Below are a list of the highlights and a couple of lowlights of the year.
First of all to the breeding season; on average the breeding birds decreased in 2018, we believe this was due to many resident birds being disadvantaged by the freezing cold March, cool spring and hot summer. This decreased the population of resident birds and interestingly appears to have been partially responsible for a decrease in migrant breeders too, possibly due to food availability or general habitat condition.
The biggest losers were the bearded tits, in 2017 we had 48 first brood nests, but in 2018 none could be located. Luckily 20 birds were seen in late summer, so we hope that there were at least some successful nests on site this year. Cetti’s warblers also plummeted with 34 territories in 2017 and just 17 in 2018. Both of these species are on the Northern edge of their range so are quite susceptible to cold winters, hopefully they will bounce back in the coming years. Reed buntings however, are not on the edge of their range though and these decreased from 70 territories to 46 this year. Interestingly some of the migrants also decreased with reed warbler territories down from 105 to 83, sedge warblers down from 166 to 115.
The wet grassland had a similar story with lapwing reducing from 80 to 47 pairs, redshank reducing from 94 to 53 pairs and snipe reducing from 18 to 9 drumming males. This again could partially be due to the cold March followed by cold spring, the water levels were just about perfect for the breeding season when many other local grasslands were suffering from drought, so we were hoping for better results...
On to some more positive breeding news…. Marsh harriers remained at 23 nests across the reserves, we still had two booming bitterns at Strumpshaw Fen, 2 breeding pairs of garganey for the second year running, we had 14 reeling grasshopper warbler territories and a Savi’s warbler reeling from Reception and Fen Hide between 5 May and 8 June, red kites bred just off the reserve, the first such successful nest in the valley in modern times. We had a fairly decent list of rarities and oddities throughout the year too, see the table below for details…
Rarities and peak counts
Spoonbill Buckenham 30-Mar 4
Little gull Buckenham 30-Mar 1
Spoonbill Buckenham 16-Apr 1
Black tailed godwit Cantley 06-Apr 300 peak count
Ruff Cantley 06-Apr 142 peak count
Temminck’s stint Buckenham 10-11 May 1
Savi’s warbler Strumpshaw Fen 5 May - 8 June 1 male singing
Sandwich tern Strumpshaw Fen 6-May 2 flyovers
Black-winged Stilt Buckenham 10-May 2 one evening only
Lesser yellowlegs Buckenham 12-Jul 1 one afternoon only
Great white egret Strumpshaw Fen 21-Jul 5 regular in June
Honey buzzard Strumpshaw Fen 25-Jul 1
Shoveler Strumpshaw Fen 24-Aug 142 peak count
Glossy ibis Strumpshaw Fen 01-Sep 1
Osprey Strumpshaw Fen 01-Sep 1
Pectoral sandpiper Buckenham 22 Sep- 14 Oct 2 Juvs- very long stay!
Gannet Strumpshaw Fen 01-Oct 1 Juv
Teal Buckenham 09-Nov 902 peak count
Mandarin duck Strumpshaw Fen 7-Nov 1 drake of unknown origin
Starling Strumpshaw Fen 27-Nov 7000 roosting
Waxwing Strumpshaw Fen 11-Nov 1
Water pipit Strumpshaw Fen Nov-Dec 6 throughout winter
Marsh harrier Strumpshaw Fen Nov 56 roosting
Jack snipe Strumpshaw Fen 19-Nov 1
Rough legged buzzard Strumpshaw Fen 02-Dec 1
Marsh harrier Strumpshaw Fen Dec 46 roosting
Hen harrier Strumpshaw Fen 16-Dec 3 roosting
Pink footed goose 16-Dec 2060 peak
White-fronted goose 16-Dec 200 peak
Taiga bean goose 25-Nov 4
Interesting non avian records
Silver washed fritillary confirmed as a breeding species at Strumpshaw Fen
White letter hairstreak seen (5) at Strumpshaw Fen, a breeding species resurgence?
White admiral seen in good numbers again
Swallowtail numbers steady, with 162 larvae counted on our annual single visit survey
Willow emerald damselfly spread has increased and they now seem to be everywhere!
I would like to say a big thank you to all of our supporters and we all wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
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