Its certainly been a wet old Autumn here on the Humber with record September and now October rainfall figures along with lots of high tides that have flooded across the reserve, but of course for the habitats and the wetland birds this excess of water does nothing but good! It soaks into the soil and floods across areas bringing in food and creating the right conditions for many wetland species to thrive.
Water water every where - and its great to see after some very dry years that have seen the reedbed too dry for long periods leading to poor reed growth. Bring your wellies and you can have a splash around!
And this week its been the ducks that have brought interest to the site in both number and quality, great to see a drake green-winged teal arriving slap bang in front of Ousefleet hide and at times giving some great views.
They do call them American green winged teal but they do also breed in Siberia, think this is about the fourth Autumn in a row we've had it - but is it the same bird?
Next is the immature scaup that seems very settled on site and has been joined by up to four goldeneye, last year we had no goldeneye records in the Autumn on the lagoons so good to see em.
Then last but not least has been the very inconspicuous late garganey, it really should be in Africa but seems to be at times enjoying Ousefleet flash that is also packed with other duck at times and again proves how important seasonal pools that grow annual 'weeds' such as orache and fat hen can be.
But the duckfest certainly hasn't stopped there with an incredible flock of 400 common scoter flying west one evening, so high I could hardly see them and didn't quite know what they were but fortunately they were seen passing over Boothferry bridge near Goole. Also of note is a constant passage of whooper swans in small parties sometimes settling on the fields but seemingly avoiding the lagoons this year, the odd pintail, then a mix of dabbling duck including teal, gadwall, shoveler, mallard, wigeon shelduck, and greylag geese.
Whoopers heading south
Gadwall on Singleton, the male was stiring up the insects and the female was helping herself
Duck being pushed around by the harriers
Goldeneye on Ousefleet - Mike Pilsworth
Still a few pink-footed geese about flying over the reserve but incredible news from the WWT coordinated grey goose count that we helped out with on the Humber when the team counted 29,000 pinkies mostly roosting on our Reads Island and Whitton Island refuges. The country wide count was an amazing 404,000 birds with the Humber holding the second biggest concentration in England after Lancashire.
Pinkfeet down at Reads Island
Plenty of marsh harrier activity and then hen harrier, merlin and sparrowhawk at roost with plenty of buzzards around too while the barn owl chicks in the box at Ousefleet continue to do well and hiss on an evening as they beg for food!
You can just see two well grown barn owl chicks in the entrance - and stock dove on the top, it always amazes me how these two species breed together, but then stock dove chicks do smell awful! A defence mechanism against predators, and yes I've smelt them when I was a ringer and yes its true they do pen and ink.
Not so many waders about at the moment but certainly some on high tide with recently 3 spotted redshank, 40 redshank, along with a couple of black-tailed godwits, the odd ruff, golden plover, lapwing, snipe, dunlin and curlew. But some days you may only see two or three of these species as they are drawn to places with better water levels at the moment, maybe when the flood recedes.......
Roosting redshank today on Marshland lagoon
With all this high pressure about at the moment there has been a bit of visible migration which always enlivens the mornings but certainly not huge numbers of birds maybe because its still relatively mild in Scandinavia. But about 4 water pipits flying about this morning, and a few brambling through, plenty of chaffinch, and a few greenfinch, siskin, redwings and today a nice flock of 50+ fieldfare alongside Horseshoe meadow.
Fieldfare today through the tractor window
And brambling at the bird feeders - photo by Mike Flowers
Greenfinch on the feeders with the tree sparrows - we've got a pretty good number of 58 greenfinch using our bird friendly crop we've set with a local farmer.
A few more migrant blackbirds too today but on Tuesday a grey wagtail south was the first record for a while, certainly more reed buntings now and its been an amazing week for bullfinch that seem to be everywhere and with birds flying over. These as with the yellowhammers may only be local birds but its certainly interesting that their numbers seem to build year on year.
Plenty of cettis warblers but certainly it seems even the last chiffchaffs have gone south, now it may only be the arriving winter birds and certainly no other summer migrants. There is regular great spotted woodpecker around the willows and certainly plenty stonechats feeding in front of the hide while there are still parties of bearded tits erupting.
Great spotted woodpecker at Townend
Autumn is very much one of my favourite times of the year especially when its a fine still morning or evening, there's just so much to see and some beautiful scenery. Here's why - get out and enjoy it before its finished and the short cold days of winter set in.
Sunrise earlier in the week
And did you see the most amazing crescent moon last night - my photo doesn't really do it justice
Fungi from around the reserve
A spider on the flood water
And the grazing marsh on full flood earlier in the week
Anyway just to restate that the reserve is open but best to bring your wellingtons!
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