An Update from Warden Steve 

Our fantastic team of staff, volunteers and grazers have worked extremely hard to complete essential management work in key areas at Greylake ready for the wintering season.  This involved getting the fields in good condition by a combination of grazing and then mowing unpalatable vegetation.  We’ve also been coppicing willows around the hides - this we do on rotation so as to continually provide a screen to prevent disturbance to the waders and wildfowl on the areas around the hides, whilst at the same time providing suitable habitat for many birds and wildlife.

Since the priority work has been completed (there is still more to do!) and the cattle have been taken off, we have been able to raise the water levels through a system of sluices to wet areas up ready for the wintering birds to arrive. The recent spell of cold weather has started to bring in good numbers of waders and wildfowl from Scandinavia and Russia. 

From around the hides see if you can hear the difference between the teal and wigeon’s whistles – the former a kind of “cryc” whilst the male wigeon makes a “pjiew pjiew”.  Watch the teal, our smallest dabbling duck, in flight as their fast twisting in flocks resemble waders. 

Look along the newly cut willows in the withy bed and you may get a glimpse of water rails skulking about the coppice stools.  Also listen out for the explosive song of the Cetti’s warbler which continues throughout the winter.  Furthermore see if you can spot snipe hiding on the banks just in front of the hides.

Flooded withy bed at Greylake

However, be prepared for the spectacle of everything taking to the air in what appears to be a blind panic when a visiting peregrine or marsh harrier decide to make an appearance!

All of this makes Greylake in the winter a great place to be immersed in, and soak up the sights and sounds of nationally important numbers of teal, wigeon, lapwing and golden plover, as well as many other wetland birds including gadwall and shoveler. 

Lapwing (photo: James Hunter)