July, 2011


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  • Fledglings and infertile eggs

    Back from holiday I went lookimg for up-dates on the species featured on BBC Springwatch. Last Monday the remaining cameras on the buzzard nests were taken down and the BBC team told us that all the buzzard young had fledged with one of the young buzzards flying in to inspect the tree climber who was dismantling the camera. Sneaking in to the Domen las hide later that day, it was very sad to see the poor oystercatchers still incubating the two eggs, which are obviously infertile as they should have hatched some three weeks ago. The female looked very bedraggled with worn feathers and I hope she realises the worst soon and gets on with her own life; there is always next year to try for chicks again. At the outbuildings I checked on the barn owls and was pleased to see that all the chicks had now fledged, including BOB, the star of the show.

    Other sightings over the last few days included a wonderful hobby (not if you are a swallow though), chasing swallows and martins over the river Dyfi; regular flocks of up to 30 crossbill and the first returning green sandpiper on the Marian Mawr pools. Kingfishers are now often seen on those pools and a suprise recently was a pair of wigeon joining the coots, teal and mallard on the pools below the car-park. Butterflies are increasing in numbers in the recent sunny weather with lots of ringlets, meadow browns and speckled woods around the reserve.

  • Springwatch oystercatchers, barn owls, buzzards and swallows

    I know you’re all eager for news of the progress of the nests we watched on Springwatch! 

     The oystercatchers were checked on again this week and they are still sitting tight on their rudimentary nest on top of the 8ft stone wall.  We first started watching the oystercatcher’s nest on the live feed the weekend before Springwatch started, so they have been sitting on the two eggs for at least 35 days now.  The usual incubation period for oystercatchers is 24 – 28 days so it is highly unlikely the eggs will hatch.  The parent birds will realise this soon and because it is still early enough in the season they may try to breed again.

     Russell our Warden with a licence to check barn owl nests says the four barn owl chicks are looking strong and growing big!  They are due to fledge in the next 1 – 2 weeks.

     We can’t check the buzzard nests however yesterday afternoon’s guided walk had an amazing sighting of a buzzard carrying a large snake over the tree line.  The snake was around 5ft long which would make it another grass snake.  The buzzard carrying the snake circled higher and higher above the trees before diving down in the area of the nest with the two chicks.  Chris Packham commented that the number of grass snakes brought to the buzzard nests shows that we have a very healthy population of grass snakes on the reserve. 

     Springwatch also showed a nest being built in an unusual location here.  The nest is now complete with at least three chicks.

    It’s a swallow nest on a light in our workshop!  One of the large windows in the workshop door is missing its glass allowing the swallows to access the interior.  The first sign of chicks was on Sunday 26th June.  In the last week their eyes have opened and you can now see the feather quills forming beneath the skin.  Swallows fledge after 18 – 23 days so we’ve got a couple more weeks of watching their progress in the nest when we go to fetch our tools!