Evening folks! I think bright and blustery sums up the day – and in terms of Old Moor’s current birds, little change.

Here’s the summary of sightings…

News from the satellite reserves included a sighting of great white egret at Adwick Washland and the recent scaup on Bolton Ings. Though those north westerlies were strong through the valley this morning, they didn’t seem to be winds of change.

The work on Old Moor continues at a pace. Today timber was being added to the new Family Hide; a path laid through the Bird Garden; and an intriguing pebble spiral er, ‘thingy’ was being constructed near the Wildlife Ponds.

Not a beardie but a bunting, a female reed bunting near the Wildlife Ponds.

As the robins on Green Lane would testify, it’s one thing having to find your own food but it is a lot easier if someone else provides it. The idea must be catching on because on the Mere for the last few days, one particular black-headed gull has come to the same conclusion.

On the Scrape at the moment there’s a pair of goldeneye. The female tends to stay near the islands in the middle but the male often ventures to the shallows, directly beneath the hide. There’s no doubt he’s a handsome chap with his sharp, black and white body; amber eye; and white cheek patches. But he’s also a messy eater.

Goldeneye feed by diving to find mussels, insect larvae, small fish and plants. It’s an imprecise business – especially in the shallows – where the duck’s actions disturb the bottom of the pool. Inevitably some left over bits of food float away and that’s where one particular black-headed gull has spotted an opportunity.

When the drake goldeneye feeds in deep water, it is left alone. However, as soon as it heads to the shallows, it is shadowed by the black-headed gull ready to pick up all that free floating food. Wherever the goldeneye goes, the gull follows – attempting to predict where the drake will surface next. Occasionally, the gull loses its benefactor and then has to make a short flight over the water until it spots the submerged duck about to surface.

Although the goldeneye probably doesn’t want or need it, the gull is fiercely protective. Sometimes another black-headed gull will work out what’s going on and head over for a slice of the action. At this, the goldeneye’s companion becomes very agitated – seeing off the competition with squawks and stabs at the newcomer.

And the goldeneye seems to plough on regardless. Most of the time, it’s unbothered by its hanger-on. But every now and again the gull is spot on with its prediction and the two acknowledge each other and their unusual arrangement.

Look out for them on your next visit.

Until next time.

Anonymous