One of the highlights for November was a female long-tailed duck which was present on the shallow lagoon over six days from 23/11 to 28/11 (photo by Jonni Price). This is the first recorded sighting of the species on the reserve, though it is understood that there was a reliable previous sighting a number of years ago which was not recorded. Long-tailed ducks can be seen around the UK coast in winter, most commonly in northern and eastern Scotland with smaller numbers found elsewhere. They breed across the arctic in many areas including Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia, Siberia, Canada and Alaska.
A male merlin which showed well from the coffee shop on 21/11 was another good reserve record.
Wader and wildfowl numbers have remained fairly steady over the past few weeks, with a nice variety present. Peak counts have included nine greenshank on 8/12, 36 black-tailed godwit on 17/11, around 150 dunlin on 3/12, 26 merganser on 22/11, six goosander on 6/12, eight shoveler on 30/11, and five pochard on 2/12. Two female pintails remained on the deep lagoon up until 28/11, while a male mandarin made a brief appearance on 11/11.
A Cetti's warbler on 23/11 was the first recorded this winter, while water rail sightings have become a daily occurrence since areas of reed were opened up around the boardwalk, with up to five birds being seen at once. Small numbers of siskin have occasionally been present around the feeders along with several goldcrests and up to two over-wintering chiffchaffs. A red kite was also seen flying over the reserve on 15/11.
A Christmas Fair took place on 25/11, with craft stalls from local artists for the adults, and plenty to entertain younger visitors including a search for Santa, toasting marshmallows, making christmas crafts and pond dipping. A Hedgehog Storytelling and Activities event for younger children also took place on 18/11. Regular events included Saturday morning volunteer led Wildlife Walks, regular Binocular and Telescope Demonstrations, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi Workshops each Thursday, and Muddy Puddles sessions for pre-school children on Wednesdays.
The new year will begin as usual with a New Years Day Bird Walk on 1/1 for those who want to get their birding year list off to a good start, or simply get outside and enjoy some wildlife. Those who prefer to be out early can join us on our Wake up to 2019 guided walk on 13/1 starting at 8am to hear the winter dawn chorus, and finishing at 10am with a breakfast bap in the coffee shop.
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