Skylarks are taking to the air in song already and can be heard throughout the reserve; it seems that spring is already upon us during this freakish spell of unseasonably warm weather. Reports of early arrivals of swallows and sand martins have been made in some parts of the country so keep an eye out and please report any early sightings to the visitor centre.
Skylark - Pete M
A brief visit from a spoonbill has been the recent highlight; it appeared on the moat on the 22nd February and was last seen the day after on the 23rd. Wildfowl noted around the flashes have been up to 31 shelduck, 10 pintail, 20 teal, 3 goldeneye, 300 greylag geese and the resident whooper swan. The red-crested pochards were reported on Parkers Pool on the 12th & 15th February. Waders noted have been up to 16 curlew, 54 lapwing, 4 oystercatchers, 2 little egrets, and a great white egret made an appearance on the 12th and 21st February.
Great white egret - Pete M
Raptors reported have been peregrine, up to 10 buzzards, sparrowhawk, red kite and a marsh harrier over the moat on the 11th February. A barn owl was also noted quartering the flashes on 12th February. Other sightings in the area were of a pair of stonechats seen in the scrub in the moat field opposite Newton Farm on 10th February, 24 yellowhammers were counted in the stubble field at Newton Farm on 12th February, and also 30 stock doves have been present in the area. Two cetti’s warblers have been heard around the Bulholme area, one was seen on the 22nd February.
Stonechat - Pete M
Main Bay and Village Bay
Up to 100 lapwings have been noted around main bay, plus 2 pintail, 2 little egrets, and a ringed plover on the islands on 16th February. A single raven was seen on main bay stack on 10th February followed by a pair on the 16th February. A total of 5 oystercatchers were reported between main bay and cut lane, as well as a sparrowhawk on 20th February. Eleven yellowhammers were seen at Beckfield Farm on the 13th February, good numbers are building up around the perimeter of the reserve.
Up to 2 kingfishers have been seen regularly from cut lane, as well as a water rail on 14th February. Two pintail were seen from Charlies Hide, as well as 21 goosander, 2 goldeneye, 16 snipe and a fleeting visit on the 14th February by a red-crested pochard. Other birds noted in the area have been treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker and 4 lesser redpoll, and not forgetting a marsh tit which has been frequenting cut lane.
Marsh tit - Joe Seymour
Spot the snipe - Pete M
46 goosanders were seen on 22nd February, another red-crested pochard (female) on 11th February and a bittern on 13th February. A pair of great-crested grebes were seen displaying and a single bearded tit noted on 16th February. Raptors reported were kestrel, red kite and buzzard, also 2 song thrush, skylark, meadow pipit, green woodpeckers and 6 siskins along red shale road on 14th February.
Discovery Trail and visitor centre
Visitors to the feeders by the visitor centre have been nutchatch, willow tit, reed bunting and bullfinch. Ravens have also been seen frequently from the visitor centre, as well as peregrine and buzzards. Kingfishers have been seen from the screen with a maximum of 3 on 20th February, also seen at the same location has been a single water rail. Birds noted around the discovery trail have been lesser redpoll, 2 mealy redpolls, siskins and 50 fieldfare on 20th February. A barn owl has also been seen at dusk in the boardwalk area. Two snipe were reported from Pick Up hide and 9 yellowhammers on the stubble field north of the visitor centre on 11th February.
Siskin - Pete M
The goosander roost on the coal tips held 91 on 11th February.
Overflights of pink-footed geese were noted, 72 flying west on 14th February and 100 flying north on 16th February.
6 whooper swans flew north on 16th February
A peacock was seen on the riverbank on 14th February and a small tortoiseshell from the duck feeding platform on 15th February.
A roe deer gave close up views from pick up hide on the 19th & 20th February, and a bank vole was seen along cut lane on 20th February.
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