So what has been happening at RSPB Belfast Harbour for the past couple of weeks? Well our two konik ponies had their annual health checks, and passed with flying colours...apart from being slightly on the chubby side! We are now looking at ways to keep them at a healthy weight, so they might have to be on a special pony diet plan very soon. Rounding them up into their pen before the vet arrived also provided an amusing spectacle for any visitors who were in the Observation Room that day, and slightly more of a challenge than we had expected. Those ponies really can sprint when they put their mind to it! However, on the second attempt they were successfully herded into the pen and left to settle for half an hour. And I have to say they were very well behaved for the vet, who managed to collar them and trim their hooves without any problems.

The konik ponies waiting patiently for the arrival of the vet

Volunteers here at the reserve have also been busy. Now that the nesting season is well and truly over then we have been able to start some of our woodland work, so teams of volunteers have been going into the Nature Conservation Area at the end of the runway at Belfast City Airport to trim back some vegetation around the fence line. They have been hard at work lopping and sawing to ensure that the fast growing willow trees don’t affect the integrity of the fence around the outside of the area. Similar work also has to be done every year to protect the electric fence around the outside of the reserve, as any vegetation that is touching the fence can sap the current, thereby reducing the effectiveness of predator protection around the lagoon.

I’m sure that you will all be glad to hear that the Black-tailed Godwits are making a return to coming back up to the Observation Room Window on Wildlife, providing wonderful unique views of this species. They seem to spend a lot of time on the far side of the lagoon, but we have noticed now that as the light begins to fade quite early, they are flying over to the near side to feed. I am also pleased to report that a Water Rail was also seen yesterday (19/11/2013) from the Observation Room. This is the first sighting this autumn, and we are hoping to see it more frequently throughout the winter, as we were lucky to have last year.

And finally, the Stoat is still stealing the show every time it appears. It put on a fantastic display yesterday, running back and forwards, somersaulting and tumbling, rarely staying still for more than a second. This went on for about half an hour, to the delight of its captive audience, who produced a soundtrack of oohs and aahs!! We will hopefully be able to bring you some photos of its antics very soon.

As you can see, its all go here at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve, and there's always something to see!! So pop down to take a look around yourself, and keep checking back here to find out about the latest goings-on.

Hope to see you soon.

The Team at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve