Saturday 21 May was another successful ‘Otter Day’ at Stanny Field Centre. The Suffolk Coast Otter Project now has a complete team working on the Blyth river and estuary and it was for these individuals that the present day was arranged. Many other facets of the project were also discussed and generally the project moves forward on a number of fronts.
The radio-tracked Black-tailed Godwit (see this blog August 2105) that has been monitored along our eastern coast during the past winter by Lyddia Barnard (fourth year student at EastonOtley) and helped by SEG members Gillian Hammond and Margaret Grenham, the bird has now returned safely to Iceland where her breeding site will be. If you want to see more details including blog comments by Lyddia and Gillian, the the link to go to is; volg.keningfangreide.nl/king-of-the-meadows-transmitters site
The main part of the study by Groningen University in Freisland is monitoring the nominate race of the species, Limosa limosa limosa, which nests in the meadow lands of The Netherlands and is their iconic bird hence the title of ‘King of the Meadows’ – these birds ‘winter’ in West Africa. A bird very much in decline hence the research to understand the reasons. The study has also transmitters on three of the Icelandic race Limosa limosa islandica. They all have Icelandic names and are females Vorsaber, Kaldadarnes and Tirns. A population very much on the increase is the Icelandic population.
Vorsaber has been ‘our’ bird spending the 2015/16 wintering at various sites on the east coast from Wivenhoe to Breydon Water; whereas Kaldadarnes spent all the winter on Sheppey and Tirms, unfortunately, never made it out of Iceland last autumn.
The Suffolk Coast Otter Project is now in its third year and has just received a second grant form the Suffolk Coast and Heaths towards their work – thank you SCH!
If you are interested in participating on either the Deben estuary and river; the Alde/Ore estuary and river or the Blyth estuary and river please get in contact. We are usually at Stanny Field Centre on a Thursday and we are meeting on Saturday 21 May from 9.30 if you want to come along to Low Barn at Stanny House Farm, Iken – follow the signs to Low Barn and not the house! Please let us know if you are coming just in case we are all out on site looking for otter poo!
Saturday 7 May the Stanny Environment Group hosted a Suffolk Wildlife Trust WildLearning Day on Breeding Bird Census Techniques. An early start was required and Mervyn Miller, Carl Powell, Mike Pratt and Rodney West took the course participants out onto the farm walking along a route and recording all birds seen and heard – one route was using Common Bird Census (CBC) methodology and a return along the same route was using Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) methods. The weather was sunny and warm and no wind – very kind! Further events during the day included looking at a breeding lapwing methodology (Bolton et al) and the present BTO house Martin 2016 national survey plus a PowerPoint talk by Rodney West.
The students of the Wildlife Conservation and Management degree course have visited Stanny Field Centre six times this semester. All but the January meeting have been field trips where they have learnt about studying small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. The final visit this week was to nearby Captain’s Wood (a SWT reserve) where Colin Lucas and Tricia Taylor showed them different techniques for recording invertebrate species.
The otter project is going well both at the two original study areas; RSPB Minsmere and the Alde estuary and also at new study sites on the Blyth estuary and the Lower Waveney.
One of the objectives of the project is to attempt to identify individual otters which is not easy – the trail cams are not really good enough so other methodologies are being trialled.
One of these is footprints; a group of individuals known as http://www.WildTrack have a system by which they say they can identify individual animals by their footprints. They have kindly said they will help our project so we have laid out areas of sand, where we hope otters will walk over. Each individual footprint is the photographed and we then send them off to Germany for analysis – time will tell if it works!
This is probably the busiest time of the year for the Stanny ringing team. Last Saturday Mike and Mervyn caught well over 130 birds at their winter ringing station. The majority were probably siskins, followed by continental Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Bramblings and Reed Buntings – a very late winter selection. Though they did catch a Dartford Warbler two weeks ago, which is not generally seen as part of the usual bunch!
Carl Powell is in a different part of the farm and his selection are thrushes, long tailed tits, kingfishers etc.
Birds are being held in the area through additional feeding, where a selected mix of seeds is broadcast in the same area each week. This is through one of the HLS options – an option which is very successful.
This year the islands that have breeding waders, have been covered with a woven plastic sheeting to kill off the grass and so prevent any spraying operations. This method has worked splendidly and we are very grateful to LBS Horticultural Supplies of Colne, Lancashire for their support, sponsorship and advice. Next year we will cover ALL the islands in autumn as the method is so extremely effective.
The weekend of 19 February saw twelve participants join Steve Piotrowski at Stanny Low Barn for a weekend course on wader ID and involvement in some of the British Trust for Ornithology projects. Saturday was a trip to Orford Ness with Steve to polish up their wader identification skills whilst on Sunday they joined Rodney West on his Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) walk and count. The evenings were filled withe various PowerPoint talks.
Students from the local EastonOtley College have made their first of six visits to Stanny Field Centre this week. The first session of the semester was an in-door event and the tricky subject of identifying beetles down to family or species , was tackled. Two experts, Colin Lucas and Tricia Taylor were leading the day, which went extremely well, with the students picking up the basic method very quickly and by the end of the day were very easily dealing with rather difficult I.D. rules!