Even our herd of 12 hardy Welsh mountain ponies has been struggling with the exceptional weather lately.
Their ability to thrive (where other stock would decline) on the demanding conditions of some of our wetlands, and their grazing habit makes them invaluable for keeping vegetation under control, allowing the rarer and less competetive wetland flowers to flourish.
Normally, they shun additional feeding such as hay, but recently due to the prolonged and intense cold, they have taken to munching happily on the organic bales on offer. No doubt they will return to their old habits at the first sign of a spring flush.
Charming as they undoubtably appear, we would like them to remain as wary of humans as reasonable and for them to maintain their semi wild habits. To this end we ask visitors on no account feed them tidbits, tempting though this might be!
Warmer (though wetter) weather has seen an upsurge in bird song with both great tit and mistle thrush singing away this morning. Very close to the Visitor Centre a lesser spotted woodpecker has started drumming on the same dead branch as last year, giving most visitors excellent views; the first sightings of this elusive resident since November. It should now drum on most mild mornings and is one of the highlights here for many birdwatchers. A spotted redshank and a greenshank were present on the flooded fields near the Breakwater hide with our winter barnacle and Greenland white-fronted geese still present on the salt marshes. The highlight today though was a bittern in plain view on the pools below the reserve car-park. Another elusive species it is not often seen well but this one stalked into the open, neck stretching occasionally, for a full fifteen minutes before slowly dissapearing into thick rush.
We heard a bang in the Visitor Centre and looked out to see a little great tit flat on its back, legs quivering on the veranda. Poor thing had flown into the window. A few minutes later he was still there, obviously breating so we gently scooped him up and popped him in a box. His legs were very wobbly and he couldn't stand up. Normally great tits are very feisty and will try and peck you if you go near them but he just lay there shell shocked. I didn't hold out much hope for him but we put him in a box for a rest. Half an hour later we peered in to check on him and he tried to jump out! We set him free and he flew straight to the giant bird feeder.
Those little birds are a lot more robust than you think. Incredible!
Just to note - we do have stickers on the windows but still birds sometimes fly into them. Unfortunate, but unavoidable. If anyone has any other tips to keep birds away from windows please let me know!