The last few days have really seen the weather almost boiling as the winds rage and squalls of rain filled clouds push constantly across the Humber landscape, but in many ways the scenes have been particularly beautiful and certainly the birding on site has been pretty good too with plenty to see from waders and wildfowl to birds of prey and passerines. Birding of course at its best is not always a fair weather pastime!
A few weather pictures
On Monday morning we had a surge tide that flooded the reedbed very nicely, thank goodness we had finished the reed cutting! Now all my volunteers know why we went hell for leather to get the job done, you never know when good conditions for cutting will change.
Noticeably all the Marsh sow thistle is now flat!
The only victim of the wind on the reserve - I think the wet rot had just about done the job already!
Waders have certainly added a bit of late winter interest with up to 81 black-tailed godwits, some of which are starting to show their red summer plumage and then a new reserve record yesterday afternoon of 153 curlew feeding on Ousefleet grazing marsh where the two Koniks are. It seems our recent grazing with ponies, sheep and cattle is really working a treat for this near threatened species and help highlight that we can provide good quality habitat in winter through targeted management.
There has also been up to 3 spotted redshank, and then a nice supporting cast of dunlin, snipe, lapwing and redshank, not too bad for this time of year.
You can see the red just showing on some of these black-tailed godwits
Snipe in front of Towend hide
Roosting redshank on a choppy Ousefleet flash
A couple of the spotted redshank
Curlew on Ousefleet
The wildfowl too have been present in excellent numbers across the lagoons with at times up to 1000 birds in total including an impressive 455 wigeon who are I suspect also benefiting from the grazing regime on Ousefleet (sheep grazed grass gives lovely sugar rich tips after the sheep are removed), There's also been over 500 teal and good numbers of mallard, gadwall, shoveler, shelduck, and tufted duck. On Monday there was also a lovely pair of goldeneye. The green-winged teal was last seen on the weekend but could well be still about.
Nice to see the little grebes gaining their summer plumage and plenty of coot on the lagoons but during the storms there have strangely been no grey herons or sign of any little egrets.
A couple of whooper swans went over on Monday heading south!
Birds of prey are continuing their good show with all three hen harriers in to roost last Friday, while the marsh harriers are ever present as are the buzzards and kestrels but little sign of the barn owl that must be keeping its head down. Hopefully the winds will abate soon and allow them to feed again. (just been to the reserve to do some work and driving back there was barn owl hunting just outside Ousefleet village in the shelter of a hedge, canny old barnie)
Marsh harrier at Marshland lagoon - I think the mallards were pushing their luck!
And despite the howling wind there has been plenty of passerine activity with fieldfares and starlings feeding in the field next to the reserve and now joined by a little flock of linnets. Plenty of tree sparrows at the feeders and often showing around the car park. Also a few stonechats still present and the odd water pipit flying about.
Stonechat out in the reedbed as I was doing some work
And the stock doves are getting flirtatious - whats the pecking all about!
Certainly the mammals haven't been put off with plenty of roe deer activity, also fox and stoat quite active.
Young buck roe deer
Dead common shrew from the path
Our snowdrops are just emerging, they are always late here on the marsh
And nice to see the meadow saxifrage plugs doing well out in Horseshoe meadow - they seem to be hardening off and developing into more robust plants
Hi Pete, there were 3 Whoopers on Ousefleet this morning. Still there when I left after 1 hour. John D.
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