Signs of spring are popping up around the reserve, hawthorn has already been spotted coming into flower, and this week we had our first snowdrop sighting in the grass by the visitor centre. Skylarks have been seen on the stacks and around the Lin Dike link a few times, and they have also been heard singing, while both herons and tree sparrows have been seen carrying nesting material. We are go!
First snowdrops, Sally Granger
With the Big Garden Birdwatch taking place this weekend there are just a few more days left of the Lounge, flocks of long-tailed tits have been very a very common sight, as have bullfinches and the odd willow tit! We’d love as many people as possible to get involved in the Birdwatch, it only takes an hour to do. All the details can be found here http://bit.ly/1nzKZVQ
Charlie’s hide has been busy with snipe this week, there were 6 spotted there yesterday and the kingfisher has made several appearances. Aside from the Kingfisher screen, Cut Lane is generally the best place to spot a kingfisher if that is the mission you have set yourself. Keep an ear out for that distinctive ‘peep peep’.
Water rail slinking at the water's edge, Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)
The red-headed smew was still flitting about on the weekend and shifted between Main Bay and Hickson’s flash, but there have been no further reported sightings since then. And the red-crested pochard that’s been around for more than a month now has been up on the moat again, joined by what appears to be some kind of gadwell/wigeon hybrid.
The marsh harrier has been very busy, with sightings nearly every day from either Lin Dike or Pick-up hide, and there has been a short-eared owl up near Big Hole again. Finally, and perhaps most strangely, a water rail has been hanging around down by the duck feeding platform...hoping for a snack perhaps?
The Big Garden Birdwatch Lounge is thrumming with activity. Those two nuthatch have been busy at the feeders, we have also had a reed bunting, bullfinch and a siskin sat almost within touching distance of the visitor centre windows.
Beyond the balcony a flock of around 20 siskin were spotted in the trees around the visitor centre, and down in the wildlife garden in full view of the lounge there has also been a weasel slinking around.
Siskin, Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Birds of prey have had another prolific week, with a sparrowhawk over the car park, kestrel and buzzard around the Riverside trail, and a marsh harrier, peregrine and barn owl over the flashes.
The red-crested pochard was last recoded up on the Moat on Tuesday, and the red-headed smew has been giving us the run around shifting between the Moat, Spoonbill Flash and Village Bay.
Also at that end of the reserve keep an eye out for stonechat, flocks of golden plover and a few pintail up on Hickson’s flash.
Up around Big Hole there have been several green woodpecker, a roe deer and a short eared owl. Both goldeneye and gadwell have been putting on courtship displays on Main Bay, and a large flock of around 50 fieldfare has been chuckling away on Cut Lane.
One major sighting this week was the snow! It was just a sprinkle but the reserve was magical.
Snowy Fairburn, Sally Granger
Fairburn may have been flooded but the wildlife doesn't seem to be too bothered! The recent sightings book is as full as ever and there is plenty to see.
The flashes were busy with 70+ curlew and 30+ goldeneye on New Years Day, and more than 100 golden plover were seen over this week.
It’s also been a busy week for birds of prey with peregrine and marsh harrier over Lin Dike, a red kite, sparrowhawk and a very busy kestrel over the Visitor Centre, and a short-eared owl up over the stacks.
Red kite, image Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
The Big Garden Birdwatch lounge is back in the Visitor Centre and the feeding station is once again up on the balcony. We’ve already had willow tits at the feeders so do pop in to relax on the sofa and watch the birds up close.
Even better, we’re currently offering a free hot drink with any purchase in the shop until the end of January, why not enjoy it in the lounge?
Nuthatch, image Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
Our two ringed nuthatches are visiting the feeders very regularly, however we have had an unconfirmed sighting of a third, unringed bird. If you spot an unringed nuthatch around the Visitor Centre we would LOVE to know.
Red-crested pochard, image Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
One of our star sightings has been the red-crested pochard. It has been up on the Moat for a good couple of weeks now. It is slightly larger than a pochard with and orangy-brown head and red beak.
We’ve also had a bittern heard booming near the Moat, they’re not the biggest booms yet but seem to be building up ready for the main event nearer to breeding season. As usual please do let us know what you spot.