2020, who would have thought it! But the new decade seems to have just breezed in as the old one left with some outstanding birding on site, decent numbers of wildfowl, the odd rarity and some top general wildlife watching just to add that little extra to the day. 

There have been some lovely evenings - I think these may be lenticular clouds - but I'm no expert so please correct me if I'm wrong!

The raptors have been just brilliant, and not just because there is both ringtail and grey male hen harriers now coming into roost fairly regularly. Here's a bit of video of the grey male from last week, just see how he jinks and twists!!

But for me and many of the visitors I've spoken to its been the close up views and constant presence of many some of the other raptors, take for example the buzzard that's taken up residence in front of Xerox hide (yes it was back again today). Its just sitting there at times or feeding on the ground, having a little fly about, kicking up the duck and generally letting you watch what is a magnificent big raptor up close and personal. 

And then there's off course the marsh harriers, with 29 roosting the number of birds hunting around site gives for plenty of top viewing of this magnificent raptor, add in the kestrels, sparrowhawks and the odd merlin and peregrine sighting then its a real all round 360 experience!

Hunting marsh harrier

Female kestrel

Especially when the barn owls put on a show, they've really been putting on a top show especially in the late afternoon along the flood banks and near to the barn owl box as viewed from Marshland hide. This morning though it was Xerox where the barnie decided it would come and see what I was doing in the hide, hovering and looking in at me from about 4m away!

Barn owl leaving nestbox late afternoon

 

But with the mild conditions it seems many birds have been encouraged to stay in the local area, especially the wildfowl. The real numbers often roost down on the river with 800 wigeon, a few pintail and lots of shoveler. But on the lagoons also, particularly at Ousefleet there has been 700 teal, and plenty of shoveler, gadwall, mallard, and Shelduck. Great too to see that today the green-winged teal was re-found by our Conservation Officer Mike - good to get it on the 2020 list after a couple of weeks AWOL. 

Green-winged teal - Mike Pilsworth

Male gadwall

Diving duck have been scarce as they always seem to be pre-Christmas but there has been a sign of a return with up to three tufted ducks on Marshland, unusual for us too has been the wintering little grebes, they usually leave site altogether. 

Male tufted duck

Most welcome has been up to six whooper swans some of which are roosting on Marshland lagoon, there's lots of feeding around the area for them with the main concentrations of up to 400 birds being over towards the Notts/South Yorkshire border. I just love the whoopers when they are about - a real feeling of the frozen North. 

Whoopers (Paul Coombes) Many thanks Paul for sending us the photo's and records

There has also largely thanks to so much sugar beet tops being available been lots of pink-footed geese feeding in the local area, great to see them in good numbers, a far cry from just 20 years ago when very few if any wintered at all in the Marshland area. 

Pinks out on the arable at Christmas

Waders have been interesting with up to 111 curlew about, often feeding around the grazing marsh, also a few black-tailed godwits today, and plenty of lapwing, the odd redshank and recently a few lovely snipe on the island particularly at Xerox and Townend. During Christmas the river areas from Whitton and around the reserve where the Ouse and Trent Meet were amazing with easily over 30,000 waders gathering including 22,000 golden plover and 7,000 lapwings but also 400 dunlin were notable. This area is great for giving refuge from disturbance and over the recent years has developed into a first class reserve network that protects so many birds for much of the time - this is very much thanks to organisations and people working together to deliver for the Humber.

Snipe at Townend lagoon

Curlew at Ousefleet through the fenceline

Waders and duck on the river Sandbanks, a great refuge this year but the river doesn't always hold so many birds, no clue as to why!

  

And some of the passerines have been pretty good including on calm days the bearded tits, there's been a few parties knocking about the lagoons but probably best has been the 5 birds at Xerox that often feed out at the edge of the lagoon, the other day they were there for over an hour! A little distant but with a scope you get some nice views. 

Bearded tits at Xerox

Other highlights have been up to 5 water pipits at the Ousefleet end of the reserve, often flying about late afternoon, still a few stonechats, kingfisher plenty of cettis warblers, reed buntings, tree sparrows, and a mix of other common species that often give some nice views between the hides. 

Reed bunting

Stonechat

Starling, they are a lovely bird at this time of year - I took the following photo's as I walked down the hedgeline from Ousefleet, all within a few minutes of each other.

Robin with a winter shadow across it and one of the last remaining berries

Goldfinch eating Alder seeds

And the fieldfare seem to be just hanging on along with a few redwing, usually the redwing have long gone west and south at this time of year

No photo's but it also seems our otters have been on some days putting on their very own performance down at Singleton, with one afternoon our regular visitors recording one nine times as it swam between the channels. 

Also other bits and pieces of wildlife including hares, roe deer, stoat, weasel and a few bits of fungi

This ones one of the Shanks on a bit of driftwood out on the grazing marsh - I think they are often used in oriental cooking, but as my ID'S a bit doggy then I've leave em alone!

And finally, you may if you've visited noticed that we've not been manning the visitor reception this Christmas and New Year - this is because due to illness and people getting new jobs we have just not had the staff available to do quite what we would have liked. Its a bit of a struggle at the moment for us to be able to get the conservation work done with just 3 staff to cover what usually takes 6, so if you feel that we have been neglecting you its not on purpose! However reception will be open this weekend unless someone else goes down sick!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

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