The last few weeks have seen several notable things happening on the reserve. Around the end of January and into early February we were enjoying spectacular aerial displays from up to 60,000 starlings as they came in to roost in the reedbeds in the evenings (photo by Jonni Price).
The first week of February saw extensive habitat management work successfully completed with many large areas of mature bramble scrub removed (see the last blog post for further details). With the reserve already in need of a tidy up after having a digger on site, a high tide of over eight metres during storm Ciara (along with south westerly winds of around 40mph and excessive amounts of water in the river Conwy) resulted in the estuary track being completely flooded, leaving a thick layer of debris along it's entire length, fortunately a rather rare event!
The morning after the storm brought a nice surprise, one of our Carneddau mountain ponies had given birth to a delightful baby foal overnight (photo by Mike Spence). Naturally, it was immediately named Ciara (though it's not yet been determined if it's a girl or a boy!).
Storm Dennis brought more rain, 49mm in 24 hours which is certainly one of the highest rainfall levels ever recorded here but fortunately caused less disruption than the previous storm.
While the vast numbers of starlings have proved to be the biggest ornithological attraction in recent weeks, firecrests have also continued to be present, with fairly regular sightings as recently as 13/2. However the high winds of the past week have resulted in less starling activity, while the firecrests are very difficult to observe in these conditions so sightings have not been as regular than they were previously. A spotted redshank has once again been another recent highlight with sightings on 25/1, 1/2 to 2/2 and again on 8/2.
Despite the storms, other wildfowl and waders have remained fairly constant with up to four goldeneye and six pochard present, a good count of 24 shoveler on 8/2 which may possibly be the highest number recorded on the reserve, and a peak of 25 merganser on 9/2. A great crested grebe which was present earlier in the winter disappeared for about three weeks around mid-January but then returned in breeding plumage (or possibly a different bird). This species hasn't bred successfully on the reserve since 2016 so hopefully we may see another breeding attempt this year. A single black-tailed godwit continues to be present almost daily, while individual greenshank have been regularly seen and snipe are often visible around the lagoon islands.
Other species of interest have included good numbers of bullfinches with at least twenty around the reserve, often around the trails up as far as the Carneddau hide and along the outer track towards the Ganol trail entrance. The recently cleared areas of bramble scrub have certainly been favoured by stonechats with at least five birds seen in these areas since the work took place. Peregrine sightings have also been regular over the past few weeks, with birds often seen in pursuit of the starling flocks.
Events during the past month included the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend on 25/1 & 26/1, regular volunteer led Wildlife Walks on Saturday mornings, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi Workshops on Thursdays, and the Monthly Famers Market on 29/1. A Build Your Own Nest box event on 15/2 was the first in a series of events during half term week, while a guided Wildfowl Walk on 16/2 was well attended and a success despite the high winds.
We now have a date for our 25th Anniversary celebration event which will be on the weekend of 30/5 & 31/5 and is likely to include a mixture of guided walks, family activities and stalls from other visiting wildlife conservation organisations. So put the date in your diaries and come and help us celebrate 25 years since the reserve opened!
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