Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New Buckenham Common

Spittle Mere, New Buckenham Common

A brief evening trip to New Buckenham Common. The meadows were in full flower, with lovely displays of Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata and Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio.

Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata

Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio

Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio

Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio

Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio

Most curious of all, I had been working all day on a revision of the conservation status of the large blue Anodorhynchus and Cyanopsitta macaws and had finished the day's work with Blue-and-yellow Macaw Ara ararauna just in time to leave for New Buckenham. For a minute or two after we entered the common, I had been subconsciously hearing the harsh raaak calls of a large Ara macaw, but had been ignoring them, probably because they have for so long been a familiar background sound to me. Suddenly, realising that macaws should not be a usual component of English summer bird song, I raced after the sounds and traced them to a lonely captive bird on a sad little plot of built-up land in the middle of the common.  

The traditional spring evening chorus included resident Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, and conversing Rooks as well as a distant Reed Bunting. Summer visitor vocalists included Swift, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Swallow, House Martin and... the unmistakeable purring of a Turtle Dove. It did not allow us to study it on the perch, but we did have three or four passable views of the dove in display flight. There is certainly nothing to complain about even a glimpse of this species: its population has plummeted by over 90% since I began birding, almost certainly due to herbicide use, and is now below 14,000 territories.

The decline of the Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur in the UK (BTO - ref. below)

Our final bird was a Barn Owl, lit by the last of the setting sun as it quartered over the grassland.


References

Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Massimino, D., Eglington, S.M., Johnston, A., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Kew, A.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2014). BirdTrends 2013: trends in numbers, breeding success and survival for UK breeding birds. BTO Research Report No. 652. BTO, Thetford. http://www.bto.org/birdtrends 

Collar, N., Boesman, P. & Sharpe, C.J. (2014). Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/54616 on 14 May 2014).

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