Summer into Autumn at Blue House Farm

It's a time of transition at Blue House Farm, with the fledging of Barn Owl chicks and arrival of passage migrants.

Recent Work and Sightings

Autumn is creeping in at Blue House Farm, with the noticeably cooler mornings seeming to perfectly coincide with the first of September. In the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to the urgent flitting and fluttering of restless swallow “swarms” as they prepare to migrate and they’ve really started to gather in large numbers, now. 

Starlings, too have been flocking together in great numbers and forming “mini-murmurations” as they whoosh overhead – a wonderful sight.

Flock of starlings taking flight over the flat fields at Blue House Farm

Barn Owl Chick Fledging

Our “world famous” Barn owl chicks – watched from all over via the live-stream from the barn – have now fully fledged. We’ve loved watching and being able to share the chicks’ (seemingly super-quick!) journey from eggs to almost-adults. The chicks have not been seen for some weeks on the camera, though we found a beautiful Barn owl feather just outside the barn only a few days ago which looks likely to have come from one of the fledglings – a good sign that they’re probably still about, even if they’ve found new places to roost.

We were delighted to find, when all of the Barn owl nest boxes at Blue House Farm were checked, that a total of ten chicks were discovered and ringed by our visiting licensed BTO ringer.

Preparing for Brent Geese Arrival

As the Summer nesting season has reached its end, we’re now looking forward to the arrival of Brent Geese which spend the winter with us. The geese complete an incredible journey from Siberia to the UK to spend the winter here, so it is of utmost importance that we have the reserve ready for their arrival. Using a combination of grazing and mowing, we make sure the grassland is at the optimum height for the geese to use. Be sure to book a place on our Brent Goose Winter Walk in December for a great opportunity to see our visiting Brent Geese and learn more about this well loved species. 

 In between the nesting season and the arrival of the Brent Geese, now is the time to see passage migrants at Blue House Farm. There are plenty of Yellow Wagtails about, often using the same areas as the grazing cattle, where they find the greatest abundance of insects to feed on. Cattle-grazed unimproved grassland provides ideal habitat for this species and they are taking advantage of it here before their journey to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. Other species which have been seen passing through include Whinchat and Wheatear. There are a few wetland birds about, despite the hot, dry summer leaving very little water in the fleets and flooded areas! We’ve seen Sandpipers (Common, Wood and Green), Redshank, Mallard, Shelduck, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Teal, Wigeon, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Cormorant and Black-tailed Godwit.

Yellow Wagtail on a shingle island

Yellow Wagtail at Blue House Farm - photo courtesy of John Lilley

Sunny Days

Despite the cool mornings which have snuck up on us, we’re still being treated to plenty of fantastically sunny days. It’s been perfect weather to work in and our hard working volunteers have (as always) been doing an amazing job of getting improvements completed. Recent works have included fencing repairs, shingle island restoration, clearing areas of vegetation in preparation for wintering waders, installing new benches and invasive species control. We’ve also still been seeing plenty of Common lizards about on those hot, dry days – always a treat! A great place to look out for them at Blue House Farm is within the dry, cracked earth surrounding the second (“Hole in the Wall”) hide! It is a relatively quiet time at Blue House Farm following the constant activity of bird nesting season, but as Autumn creeps in, the bird activity is picking up, and it is exciting to get a glimpse of the species which we’re lucky to get to see on their passage through.

Sunset at Blue House Farm

Walking along the sea wall at Blue House Farm can treat you to a spectacular sunset.