A great effort from our practical volunteers this Wednesday & Thursday have seen the car park islands cut and cleared, trees staked, pot holes filled, guttering put up on the new education shelter and signs cleaned and repaired and much more. Thank you so much for all the hard work you all put in. It's all looking great and we will all enjoy seeing the wildflower show again in the spring thanks to your efforts.
Even from the car park there's plenty of wildlife to see. A rather nice flyover by a Bittern yesterday was nice to see while a few Marsh Harrier flights were recorded too. A buzzard was once again perched on one of the telegraph poles although I have forgotten to mention that on the last 2 Fridays 2 were sat on either side of the same pole like a couple of bookends.
Smaller birds are still enjoying using the feeders, although one or two rats are also getting their faces on camera too. Goldfinches are moving around in flocks whilst small flocks of Redpoll have also been seen. Close by on the main track look out for gangs of Long Tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Blackcaps (females seen), Song Thrush, Treecreepers (also seen between the 2 platforms)a and Bullfinches - a pair spotted on Sunday and a female reported on Thursday so I've raided the John Crispin archives for a photo to suit - thanks John:
It's still very mild (Wednesday was a fabulous day) and despite a couple of frosts you can still see several butterflies and dragonflies on the wing. Check out the Ivy in particular on the main path on the way to the 1st platform. It's south facing and in a good sheltered spot with the Ivy offering a good late nectar source. Red Admirals in particular are enjoying this but you can also add to these Peacock, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell. In terms of dragonflies a visitor reported seeing a Migrant Hawker whilst I can certainly add both Common and Ruddy Darter (mating pairs last week) to this now very small list.
As you get to the 1st platform you can feast your eyes on a host of species - well it certainly seems to have been a busier week here with many different species recorded. The Glossy Ibis has been spotted here a few times this week - it was very close in yesterday apparently offering great views, whilst several wader species have also been spotted. Dunlin reported on Wednesday, 3 Ruff yesterday along with around 50 Lapwing and 3 Snipe also seen. Both Great White Egret and Little Egret also seen along with the usual selection of duck including Wigeon and Teal.
It's a similar story down at the second viewing platform (often referred to as VP2 in case you hear people talking about this - no prizes for guessing what the 1st viewing platform is shortened to). Another good array of birds again Lapwing but here more often than not you are looking at between 150 -200 birds. A group of 20 Snipe have been seen in flight a couple of times this week before settling whilst 3 Ruff - perhaps the same ones as at VP1 were also recorded.
There's also been a few Bittern flights recorded here this week as well as over Waltons, at Loxtons and from the Avalon Hide chances of seeing one aren't too bad - although this time of year they are far more secretive. John Crispin got this shot from VP2 this week - odd how it's toe appears to stick up. Thanks John:
There's also a good selection of ducks as at VP1 too including: Wigeon (c200 seen on Sunday), Teal (c30 seen on Sunday), Shoveler, Mallard & Gadwall but you can add to this Pintail with 2 males and a female seen on Sunday - they are popping in from time to time so keep your eyes open. Here's a snapshot of what you may see there at present:
There's also a fair number of geese using this area. Around 60 Greylags are roosting here each night with the majority taking off in the morning and heading west. Groups of Canada Geese also gather here. Thanks to John Crispin for these shots all taken this week:
Greylag Geese taking off: John Crispin
Single Greylag with a Coot for company: John Crispin
Canada Geese taking off: John Crispin
If you are watching things take to the sky in the morning you will most likely catch the Starlings too. They are still roosting in Loxtons (the majority are) with conservative estimates of 50,000 birds taking off around 7.15am (coming in to roost from 4pm onward). Give the Starling Hotline a ring if you are planning a visit just in case the roost moves location 07866 554142 a recorded message will give you the last known location.
Make sure you arrive in plenty of time if you're planning a Starling visit - you can always take in some of the sights mentioned above or take a stroll to the Avalon Hide. There have been a couple of interesting visitors here this week (of the feathered variety). A Ferrugenous Duck (drake) was spotted on Wednesday - there are some photos on Twitter (also talk of a female too on one occasion but not reported again). It was seen again yesterday and this morning so worth a look if you need it for your list. It was seen hanging around with a couple of Pochard at one point. Also a few Water Pipits recorded around the site - including one here on Thursday. I've included another archive photo here to help you look out for this character:
Also here look out for Tawny Owl in the wood behind. Has been known to stick his head out of the box in the woodland during the last couple of weeks. One was also heard this time last week during the middle of the day. In front of the hide there have been plenty of Shoveler on most days and 130 Gadwall counted here on Thursday. There's also a good chance of Marsh Harrier here on most days. Males and 2 different females have been seen this week - distinguished by their pale wing bars and shoulders.
Also this week: One or two Roe deer being spotted in and around the reserve, Jays still sen along the main path collecting acorns, Great Spotted Woodpeckers seen daily, 4 Great White Egrets counted in Loxtons on Sunday, Good stuff from the Tor View hide this week (inc. Cettis Warbler close in, Water Rail in front, Bittern Marsh Harrier Kingfisher & Bearded Tit), Bearded Tits also seen in front of the 2nd platform (4 on Thursday), Stonechats (male and female) seen in front of both platforms, Kestrel still performing well in front of 1st platform and close to the Avalon Hide and Kingfishers reported from screens at both Waltons and Loxtons:
Who knows what next week will bring. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!