Well, we've ticked off another week - my first full week away from the reserve since locking it down last Tuesday. I have to say I am really missing the place as I'm sure many of you are too. I'm having to make do with wildlife sightings from my garden or from any encounters during the permitted exercise we are able to take each day. In fact I'm staring out of my windows now and can see house sparrows on my feeders out the front and plenty of hoverflies whizzing around in the sunshine out the back.
Thankfully though, the wider Ham Wall family of staff and volunteers have been sending me in some photos and information for me to share from around the county as well as a few shots of birds on the reserve from just before the lockdown - just so we don't miss the place too much.
Rest assured though the wildlife will do just fine without us watching it: bitterns will be booming, marsh harriers quartering and butterflies will still flutter by. The quieter reserve could well mean wildlife moves into those places we normally occupy - you may have seen wild goats walking around welsh villages on TV. Well it's not quite the same but this kestrel was photographed by volunteer Mike Pearce perched on one of the one way signs in the empty car park on the Monday before lockdown: thanks Mike.
Other reserve news I can report from Site Manager, Steve Hughes was that lapwings were displaying over the newly formed area visible from the old rail bridge as you walk along the main tack as well as others in a wet field to the left of the Avalon Hide (again this was just before the lockdown). Guess, we will never know if they nest successfully or otherwise.
Newly formed area - this was previously just two large blocks connected by a land bridge - we've now created more islands with a lot more valuable edge habitat.
Another wonderful sighting on the Monday before lockdown was of tadpoles in our small pond in the wildlife garden at the car park. Thanks to Linda Moysey for her film she sent which I can't seem to upload on here - I will share it to our Facebook and twitter pages if I can instead. Perhaps you have a pond in your garden - we'd love to know what you're seeing.
his brings me to my garden - after the garden blog I wrote on Wednesday the house sparrows have certainly started getting through the seed a lot more quickly but not seeing any other birds feeding as yet. A blackbird sits underneath sometimes and I did see 2 blackcaps chasing each other but they passed right by. In the back garden the only feathered visitor I've had has been a carrion crow who perched on my fence calling loudly yesterday. Thanks to Mike Pearce for his shot taken a a fortnight ago at Ham Wall:
I have heard birds though. Robin and blackbird sing frequently and I've also been hearing goldfinch and greenfinch (which was particularly nice). Flyovers within from herring gulls and jackdaws add to the mix. I'll persevere with the feeders and see if I get a greater variety in time.
I have been watching a couple of wood pigeons close to the feeders. They have been sitting there for long periods cuddling up and almost kissing (love birds) and it looks as though for what must be at least the 5th year running are nesting again - they have still yet to be successful. If at first you don't succeed?
Warden Ali Blaney has reported starlings nesting in her roof within the facia/soffit. She's sent a picture with some lovely artwork to show us. Thanks Ali:
Any nesting birds where you live?
Spending so much time at home, means those times we can watch wildlife in our gardens or on our daily permitted exercise is all the more precious. Even those more common birds visiting our feeders can bring great joy. Thanks to all those sending in sightings. Not surprisingly lots of great tits and blue tits being reported, along with dunnock, wren and wood pigeon and of course house sparrow. Thanks to Pete Manley who has sent me pictures of rook and jackdaws on his feeders:
and now for your close up...
If you are enjoying watching the birds in your garden how about tuning in and sharing with the RSPB Breakfast Birdwatch between 8am and 9am each morning. Or look on the RSPB website for the Big Garden Birdwatch results which came out yesterday.
Another volunteer Bob Buck has been lucky enough to be able to walk to his allotment and enjoy the sounds of skylarks singing and a tame female blackbird taking worms as he digs. There was also a report of yellowhammers nearby and even better a juvenile white tailed eagle over his village near Bristol. Thanks for the news Bob and enjoy your allotment time.
I have to admit I've been staying at home a lot and have only been on 2 walks in the last week. I'm finding on the really quiet local walk we usually do are a lot more people making social distancing quite hard on narrow paths in places. I have enjoyed them though - maybe I need to chose my times more wisely to avoid more people.
I have enjoyed hearing my first blackcap singing - having missed those on the reserve before we closed and chiffchaffs just opposite with tits and finches began and even a pheasant in a nearby field to make a bit of a chorus to enjoy. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming away on a tree and it echoed loudly all around bouncing of the limestone walls of an old quarry. Thanks to both Mike Pearce and Graham Wagner for their chiffchaff photos taken on the reserve before lockdown:
We'd love to hear any sightings you've had on your walks. Next time I go out I'm hoping to catch up with the peregrines which use the disused quarry close to my home. We often hear them and have seen them chasing pigeons at full speed in the past. I've also been hoping to hear the tawny owls calling at night - on occasions from the large ash tree in the neighbours garden.
I have seen bats flying around at dusk and in sunny spells had visits from brimstone and peacock butterflies - look out also for small tortoiseshell and comma and now that we are in April orange tips and speckled wood should be more commonplace as time passes.
Keep sending your sightings in from where you are and enjoy the sunshine this weekend - following all the guidelines of course. Thanks for reading and stay safe.
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