The new year has begun with a variety of work going on around the reserve. Some significant changes are currently taking place in front of the coffee shop where we have been deepening part of the shallow lagoon so that the area immediately in front of the building will hold water throughout the year, while the edges are being re-landscaped to provide a shallow margin for feeding water birds.

Another contractor has been clearing scrub from the causeway between the lagoons which we do annually to keep this area open and we are also in the process of removing some willows and other trees from the estuary embankment. The aim of keeping these areas free of large trees is to encourage water birds to move more freely between the lagoons and estuary, and to keep areas close to the lagoons more open which is favourable to roosting and feeding waders and other water birds.

More routine winter habitat management work has also continued, cutting back areas of reed and scrub near the hides and viewpoints and around the lagoon edges to maintain better opportunities for viewing wildlife.

Meanwhile bird sightings have generally been typical for the time of year. Highlights have included a firecrest (library photo by Mike Nesbitt) with the first sighting of the winter on 5/1 after much anticipation, and with further sightings on 13/1 and 20/1. Spotted redshank have been present on several days with two birds seen on 8/1. Two scaup are still present from earlier in the winter, including an immature drake reported most days, and an adult female which seems to have been more elusive recently. A great white egret has continued to make several appearances on the estuary.

A good number of shoveler continue to be present, typically at least 30 birds which seem to be favouring the deep lagoon which is unusual and most likely due to the low water level in the shallow lagoon while we carry out the re-landscaping work. Up to six pochard also remain and small numbers of merganser have also been present among the more numerous wigeon and teal. A knot has been recorded several times, a surprisingly scarce bird here, and greenshank have occasionally been present with a maximum of six on 22/1, among the more numerous wader species including redshank, curlew and lapwing. Water rails also continue to be seen regularly.

Good numbers of small passerines are present in the woodland areas with several reports of lesser redpoll among the siskin flocks, and numerous bullfinches

  • I'm pretty sure I heard a firecrest this evening 24/1 but could see it. There were a number of great tits chapping away, but there was a momentary very piercing call above them which broke through at one point.  I am a bit of a beginner though.