Point Break: A marsh harrier, tern survey and a rare migrant from the Med on day two

09:23 04 July 2012

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk's first nature reserve. The seals resting on the beach. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY


Reporter STEVE DOWNES gives his latest update as he spends a week living with the wardens on Blakeney Point.

After sleeping like a baby log (I couldn’t choose between the two), thanks to fresh air and Woodforde’s Wherry, day two started splendidly.

At 8.15am, Eddie Stubbings, the head warden, spotted a marsh harrier hunting in the dunes. Majestic, magnificent – and rarer than a golden eagle, apparently.

We then headed out for the daily bird and insect survey, where sightings included a squad of linnets, a white satin moth, a meadow pipit nest with four eggs, and three curlews flying past with bent bills.

I wasn’t so impressed when I saw black-headed gulls chasing terns to make them drop the fish that they had caught. It’s like waiting outside Morrisons and pinching someone’s bags of shopping.

A proud moment followed, as I was given the chalk and allowed to update the “today’s sightings” board in the visitor centre. I haven’t written with so much care since my junior school handwriting test.

Suitably buoyed, I headed off with Eddie for gap watch. Despite my visions of donning a tight red swimsuit, the job did not include rescuing swimmers or wrestling sharks. Instead, it was about patrolling the beach and dunes to keep visitors away from the tern nesting areas, checking rat/stoat traps and monitoring nests. A highlight was spotting a red-veined darter dragonfly – a rare migrant from the Mediterranean. Later, I will hop on a boat to take part in a tern count, helping to provide the crucial data that is used to monitor and protect these beautiful birds.

It is the latest in an endless stream of privileges that are deepening my appreciation of this remarkable Norfolk beauty spot.

● For regular updates, see the EDP each day this week and follow @stevedownes1973 on Twitter.


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