Snipe (Bob Garrett)

Thankfully, the Conwy Valley flooding hasn't affected the reserve, except that it's created some new ponds where we didn't have them before. The levels in the lagoons are rising back towards where we want them to be for the forthcoming nesting season, and this has pushed feeding snipe from the reedbeds out into the open. Benarth Hide is a good place to get views of these wonderful waders, with groups of 10 or more together; a jack snipe was reported from here this morning. Did you know that the collective name for snipe when on the ground is a 'walk' and when they're in flight, it's a 'wisp'?

The shallow lagoon is also hosting as good range of ducks, including goldeneyes, pochard and tufted ducks that, here, are usually found only on the deep lagoon. A couple of great crested grebes are on the deep lagoon. Water rails are also being forced into the open by higher water levels, and you might also see them skittling away from the temporary ponds on the paddocks.

It's not usually a time of year to see 'migrant' waders, but two bar-tailed godwits on the estuary this morning and a turnstone in front of Benarth Hide on Thursday (23rd) were unseasonal. A barnacle goose on the saltmarsh on Saturday (19th) was also unusual, but must be classed as "of unknown origin".

Two water pipits were on the estuary for a few days (13th-15th) and may still be in the area, as was a Scandinavian rock pipit (littoralis) - they tend to favour the tideline north of the reserve, approaching Conwy Cob.

At least two firecrests are still on the reserve today, along with a treecreeper (far rarer here), which has been seen several times in recent weeks. The firecrests will almost certainly be overwintering here, but they are difficult to see on wet and windy days, staying in low scrub to feed where it is more sheltered.

Look in the alders around the Bridge Pond for siskins, while a lesser redpoll was seen here on Wednesday (23rd). A Cetti's warbler was heard and seen again on Saturday (19th), when a chiffchaff was singing. Song thrushes and robins are also in 'Spring' mode, with their songs creating a dawn chorus this week. Bullfinches have also been very evident, with flocks of half a dozen feeding in scrub at the south end of the reserve.

The reserve is open every day throughout the Christmas holidays, 9.30am-5pm (coffee shop 10am-4.30pm), and all the trails are open, although we recommend wellies or walking boots as some footpaths are wet. Unfortunately, we have had to close part of the Tal-y-fan Hide, which was vandalised over Christmas, and it will take us a few days to complete the repairs.