Starlings at Conwy (Stephen Whitfield)

February will be remembered here as one of the best months for murmurating starlings for many years.  By the end of the month, at least 30,000 (and that's  a conservative estimate) were coming in to the reedbeds to roost, preceded on calm evenings by spectacular displays across the sky. This band of brothers (and sisters) stretches the length of the reserve, from Llandudno Junction to Glan Conwy, and many people have come to enjoy the show. We've seen from wonderful photographs (skim through our Facebook and Twitter pages to see more), but we especially loved this one by Stephen Whitfield.

Sparrowhawks, peregrines and even buzzards have discovered that Conwy is a good place to come for an afternoon snack, and as Stephen said in his Facebook post: "There were a number of predators chasing the starlings at Conwy tonight so they decided to issue a danger warning!"

The murmuration will probably continue for a few more weeks, though numbers will diminish in late March. This week, the peak time is around 6pm, but will obviously get later as the days lengthen.

There are signs of winter receding on the reserve, as the number of pochards and goldeneyes reduce, some starting to make their way north for the breeding season. A couple of stonechats and a flock of 30 linnets along the estuary are further signs of movement following the stasis of midwinter. I saw a couple of woodcocks yesterday afternoon, the first here for many weeks and perhaps a sign that they are moving through North Wales on their way back to Russia.  Lesser black-backed gull sightings are on the up as birds return from their wintering grounds in Iberia, whereas our wintering great black-backed gulls are departing. It's all change.

A pair of great crested grebes were nest-building here yesterday; they often make several attempts before they lay eggs, but it's a positive sign. There are also a number of occupied grey heron nests in Coed Benarth, visible across the estuary. A kingfisher last week was the first spotted here for a while, and a knot was a good record during the monthly Wetland Bird Survey.

A treecreeper has been a regular visitor here in recent weeks, usually in the trees around the Bridge Pond, where mild days last week brought a burst of frog activity and plenty of frogspawn. A couple of chiffchaffs here are also overwintering, neither yet heard to sing. At least one firecrest was still here to last weekend at least, the water pipit was seen as recently as last Friday and the Cetti's warbler last Thursday - all three are probably still here, but can be hard to locate.

Work on the reserve

Some advance notice about works here in the next few weeks. The flooring is being replaced in the Visitor Centre next week, so the access arrangements will be different from Monday 7th to Friday 11th. The shop will operate from the Education Room at the rear of the Visitor Centre, and this is where you can get tickets for the reserve trails. The Coffee Shop is open as usual too.

In a couple of weeks' time (from Monday 18th), we will be pumping water from the Deep Lagoon to the Shallow Lagoon. Despite the wet winter, we are still about 20cm below where we want to be, mainly because we have had problems with the power cable to the pump that we use to top up the lagoons from the Afon Ganol. If we don't transfer this water and get as much into the Shallow Lagoon as we can, it will dry out earlier than we want - we aim to have bare mud for migrating waders in August, but without pumping this water, it'll be low in July, before the bulk of the waders drop in on their way south. There will be a pump on the causeway between the two lagoons, and inevitably there will be disturbance as we take it on and off, and during refuelling.

We're recruiting

Dave, who has been with us for six years, currently Assistant Catering Manager, is leaving us at Easter, so we have a vacancy. If you know someone who could be our new Assistant Catering Manager, please encourage them to visit our website for details.

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