Mid-December and the weather has become truly unseasonal. Whilst many winter visitors remain on the reserve, the milder conditions mean my walks home are accompanied by bats. Lake Vyrnwy has been reporting them as well, and I recently saw some active in broad daylight in Dolgellau, so I'd be interested to know how widespread this emergence is. Some homework for me.

About those winter visitors. The great white egret and long tailed duck were last seen on the 4th December and 21st November respectively, with other arrivals including intermittent groups of  gadwall on the pools outside the visitor centre, the reserve's first bramblings of the winter on the feeders on the 22nd, and 18 of the Dyfi's Greenland white-fronted geese, as well as a spotted redshank, on Breakwater fields on the 18th November. The reserve's recent good form with raptors continues, with multiple reports of hen harrier, merlin, peregrine, and a wing-tagged marsh harrier that patrols the estuary, which we recently learned was tagged in Norfolk in June this year. A yellow-browed warbler was seen briefly near Ravenswood on the 22nd November, raising hopes of an overwintering individual, but has not been seen or heard since to my knowledge. A single water pipit, which frequented Marian Mawr pools towards the end of last month, completes the list of more unusual bird sightings.

Marsh harrier, Circus aeruginosus (Tom Kistruck)

On the 10th December our video camera on top of Domen Las hide, which 'broadcasts' to the visitor centre, made it's money when we spotted a grey seal struggling with a large (and evidently very slippery) fish. A recent report by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales identified 16 grey seal pupping sites between Aberystwyth and Cemaes Head in 2015, with the majority along Ceredigion's southern coastline (http://bit.ly/2hEQGD0). According to the same report, Natural Resources Wales has a seal photographic ID database consisting of records of some 3000 individuals in the Irish Sea, with the aim of analysing population size and movements. If only I'd known at the time, I might have taken a photo in the hopes of finding out more about the recent visitor.

This will be the last sightings update from us before the new year, so may I take the opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year indeed.

Just don't expect much snow.