What a crackin’ day! A day of surprises and drama at Old Moor. Details in a moment but first the summary…

Let’s start in the Tree Sparrow Farm. New here today were a fine-looking pair of yellowhammer and a female brambling. Nearby, in the Bird Garden, a pair of redwing were added to the more familiar mix.

Whilst the Mere and Wath Ings’ main marsh provided large numbers of wintering ducks, there were also marsh harrier, sparrowhawk and buzzard seen today.

But it was the Reedbed Trail that provided the most excitement of the day. Here, between the Reedbed Screen and the corner of the trail, two bearded tit provided excellent views throughout the day. A striking male and what looked to me like a young female, fed contentedly within a few feet of the path.

Although this pair regularly disappeared into the bottom of the reedbed, each time, after a few calls to each other, the birds were relocated and then seen climbing the reed stems. Patience and attentive listening were all that were required to pick them up.

- Which seems a good place to break off my storytelling and gently and politely remind visitors that the use of ‘tape lures’ is not acceptable at Old Moor. By this we mean sound recordings of bird calls in any format.

Today some folk were seen playing recordings of beardie calls in order to draw out the birds. The individuals were challenged and politely asked to stop. At Old Moor we think ‘tape lures’ distract the birds from their natural behaviours and wastes their energy. That’s pretty much the opposite of what we want. Nuff said?

Then, just as twenty people were quietly and respectfully watching the beardies, another drama unfolded above our heads.

A peregrine landed on the top of the nearby pylon. She watched. She preened. And then before we realised what was going on, she launched herself into a pursuit.

The next surprise was what she was chasing – an avocet!

Yep, to my knowledge, the first avocet in the valley this year was now being pursued by a top predator.

The poor avocet twisted and turned, calling as it flew. But the peregrine was tenacious and pursued the wader out towards the back the Mere.

To be fair, nobody actually saw the peregrine take the avocet. But then, neither did we see her return to her lookout or fly off to look for an easier meal.

So there you have it, a bit of an amazing day and one that I think most visitors will not forget in a hurry. But then, as one watcher commented, “It’s always a brilliant day when I come here.”

And on that note. Until next time.

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