RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 26th January- 1st February 2019

After a rainy start to the week, dry weather coupled with sub-zero temperatures settled in. Mersehead completely froze up and the wetlands became ice rinks for hardy ducks and waders! The absence of clouds allowed us to enjoy views of snow-capped hills, and we certainly had the best seat to admire the Lake District dressed in it’s Winter coat.

Bird wise, things kicked off with the Big Garden Bird Watch on the weekend. Jack, one of the residential volunteers sat down near the visitor centre to do the survey. He was lucky enough to see a Willow tit, a rare sighting at the table feeder. Very similar looking to Coal tits, Willow tits lack the white stripe that is present on the back of Coal Tits' heads. 2 male Stonechat were observed over at rainbow lane, and 20+ Twite were seen flying over the entrance road of the reserve. A Woodcock was also sighted flying over the entrance road.
A few hungry birds of prey were out and about this week. A Peregrine was reported at the Eastern edge of the reserve, A Merlin was seen perched on a fence post near the woodland, and Red Kites were spotted several times, gracefully circling above Mersehead. Finally, important numbers of Pink-footed (up to 400) were heard and spotted flying West in the morning.

Willow Tit- Mike Langman (RSPB images)

We had 2 surveys this week, a Winter Passerine Count on Tuesday and a Barnacle Goose count on Wednesday. 70 Skylark, 53 Chaffinch, and 20 Reed Bunting were reported during the Winter passerine survey, and only 211 Barnacle Goose were feeding around Mersehead on Wednesday. Cold, icy weather early in the morning probably to blame for this low count as a few thousand geese arrived later in the afternoon when things had warmed up a bit!

 Reed Bunting- Ben Andrew (RSPB images)

As a run up to the “Badger Banquet” events on Saturday 2/02 and Sunday 3/02, we have continued baiting and monitoring Badger activity in the Sulwath Garden. Up to 4 Badgers were seen feeding at the same time just a few meters away from the viewing room window! You can find more information about these events here: Booking is essential!

Mathieu Burtschell, Residential Volunteer