If you’ve visited the reserve over the past week or so then you may have noticed things getting rather messy with diggers around some of the pond areas.

Wetlands are by nature a constantly changing habitat with the process of ecological succession causing areas of open water to gradually become inundated with vegetation, and many of our smaller ponds have become overgrown with reeds, rushes and other aquatic plants, while the margins have become enclosed by extensive bramble and willow scrub.

The work over the past week has cleared out several of these pond areas, digging them a little deeper, and removing some of the dense scrub and trees from the margins to create more open embankments, and benefitting a variety of wildlife both in and around the ponds.

In particular, we hope that in the long run the works will improve some of the areas of the reserve for dragonflies, providing some more suitable habitat for the larvae to live in, and the adults to lay eggs, as well as more opportunities to view the adults when they emerge in spring and summer.

Meanwhile some of the bird highlights around the reserve over the past month have included a merlin on 25/1, a marsh harrier on 4/2, a single brambling among a flock of chaffinches on 10/2, and another sighting of jack snipe on 11/2.

Waders have once again included spotted redshank seen on four dates, knot on several dates including a maximum of seven on 14/2, occasional greenshank, and a single woodcock on 9/2.

A variety of wildfowl continue to be present around the lagoons including a peak of 11 pochard on 17/2, numerous shoveler and regular merganser with a maximum of seven on 9/2. Great crested grebe have occasionally been present with up to two birds seen on 20/2 and 21/2, while flocks of pink-footed geese have been recorded passing over the reserve again including 22 on 7/2 and 26 on 14/2. Kingfisher have also remained on the reserve throughout the winter, though often elusive with sightings noted on seven dates over the past month.

Passerines of interest have again included regular siskin, bullfinch, Cetti’s warbler and occasional chiffchaff. Pied wagtails have been roosting on the reserve in significant numbers with 126 counted on 14/2, while starlings (pictured)  have been making a comeback this winter with up to around 10,000 present resulting in some nice murmurations, following two winters when very few birds were present.