January saw the starling murmurations build up as we'd hoped, with small numbers at the start of the new year increasing towards 50 thousand birds later in the month and producing some spectacular aerial displays as they arrived to roost in the reedbeds. At the time of writing it seems that numbers may possibly have already peaked, although considerable sized flocks have still been coming in at dusk on recent evenings. Please remember that the reserve car park is locked at 5pm if you're planning to come and see them.
Much of the bird life on the reserve has remained steady over the past month, with a single ruff present from 25/1 to 27/1 being a particular highlight. A pair of goldeneye have been a regular sight on the shallow lagoon where up to 14 shoveler have also been present along with particularly good numbers of gadwall peaking at around 80 birds. The deep lagoon has seen up to 15 merganser, six pochard, three great crested grebe and two goosander, while waders have included small numbers of greenshank and black-tailed godwit, occasional bar-tailed godwit, and up to 100 dunlin on the estuary.
A water rail survey which was carried out on 25/1 revealed a rather low winter count for the reserve of just 12 birds, down from an all time high count of 24 birds the previous winter (a further five were also recorded in wetlands adjacent to the reserve). It's possible that milder weather which has occurred through much of the winter has resulted in fewer birds moving here from other parts of the country or from the continent. Meanwhile kingfisher sightings have been fairly regular particularly around the deep lagoon.
Other sightings have included regular flocks of siskins and occasional treecreeper around the wildlife garden area, stonechats which have frequented the open areas along the track near the estuary at the far end of the reserve, and peregrine which has been a regular sight hunting over the lagoons and estuary.
Events over the past month have included Wake up to 2019 - an early morning guided walk with the warden, the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend which featured several events for children including the Record Breaking Bird Show as well as opportunities to make bird food and learn about garden birds. Regular events included volunteer led Saturday morning Wildlife Walks, Muddy Puddles for pre school children on Wednesdays, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi on Thursdays, and the monthly Farmers Market which takes place on the last Wednesday of each month.
Events for children coming up over February half term include Build your own Nestbox on 23/2 and Love Lego, Love Nature on 26/2 where participants will have the opportunity to use lego to develop their own wildlife animations with ipads while exploring the reserve's habitats.
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