Yay, we've had some rain! The Shallow Lagoon is as low as I can remember (except for the time when we emptied it to refill it with saltwater to tackle the invasive New Zealand Pygmyweed). Not surprisingly, many of the birds have moved onto the Deep Lagoon, where the mudbank close to Benarth Hide has been a popular feeding and roosting area with the lapwings, teal and redshanks. We've only had 2cm so far this week, and we need about 90cm over the Winter to refill the lagoon, but it's a start!
Signs of Winter elsewhere in Europe are apparent by the arrival of our first goldeneye last weekend, and a few more pochards during the week. The two long-staying pintail remain here, while shelducks have started to return from their moult migration: 10 birds here this morning. Around the feeders, the first coal tit of autumn was spotted on Tuesday (8th), our first fieldfare on Thursday 3rd and a brambling on Wednesday 2nd
We cut the islands in front of Carneddau Hide a month earlier than usual and the linnets have loved it. A flock of up to 70 has been feeding on the seed spilt by the cutting, and snipe have been hiding among the cut foliage.
Best birds of early November were water pipit (Wednesday 9th), firecrest (most recently on Tuesday 8th), grey plover (Thursday 3rd-Sunday 6th), 5 rock pipits (6th), 2 greenshanks (Saturday 5th), whooper swan (1 on Thursday 3rd and 10 that stayed all day on Monday 31st) and two Mediterranean gulls on Wednesday 2nd. A real surprise was a Siberian chiffchaff on Wednesday 2nd, part of an influx of birds from northeast Europe and beyond this autumn. This one, the same species as our summering chiffchaffs but of a different subspecies known as 'tristis' was singing in the trees near the boardwalk, something I'd never heard before.
Two male Cetti's warblers have been singing, near The LookOut and Tal-y-fan Hide, though less vocal since the wet weather arrived. Chiffchaff and blackcap have been with us throughout the Autumn, and choughs are almost a daily occurrence, with a maximum of 7 flying over in one morning. The long-staying great white egret was last seen on Thursday 3rd. With dusk falling before we leave, we have been noticing pied wagtails flying to roost in the twilight, southeast over the reserve, perhaps to the Dwr Cymru sewage works at Glan Conwy corner. No starling murmuration yet though.
We have installed a fence in the channel between the Carneddau Hide and the first island this week. These islands are visited by mammals, such as foxes, which will eat the eggs and chicks of nesting birds, but even their presence can deter birds from settling on the islands. We have constructed a fence in the channel to reduce the number of visits made by mammals, especially when the water level is low. We’ll monitor the fence to see how effective it is, and the islands so we know if ground-nesting birds feel safer. This is part of our Wild About Nature project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have also removed the electric fence that we use to stop the ponies walking onto the islands, so it looks much tidier.
You will also have noticed that we have started some reed-cutting near the boardwalk. This is to open up the views, and as the water level rises, will hopefully provide opportunities to see water rails and other birds feeding along the edges.