A calm frosty start to the 18th provided the perfect opportunity to head out onto the reserve and do a bit of wildlife watching. On arrival at the Visitor Centre a Water Rail skidded across the frozen pools below. A Woodcock rose up from a small woodland pool on the lower Green Trail. Further along four Mistle Thrush were feeding on the short turf around the Ynys Edwin Pool with one bird later singing high up in the trees. A single Red Kite perched up to take in some early morning rays near Ynys Edwin. The Breakwater field produced a Taverner’s Goose seen feeding alongside Canada Geese, the bird an escapee which has frequented the reserve for a few years. In total 63 bird species were recorded, not bad given that the stroll coincided with a low tide.

 Here is a record photo of the Taverner's Goose (left bird) alongside a Canada Goose (right bird) note the smaller size and darker plumage.

The woodland trails and their leafless canopies can feel devoid of wildlife at this time year however with a bit of strategy a woodland ramble at Ynys-hir could prove very productive. Choose a calm sunny day and take your time, making regular stops in order to listen for sounds of life. That’s the exact strategy I employed on the Green Trail during the week where a stand of larch on the lower trail provided views of foraging Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, their presence given away via a steady flow of husks from the canopy. A seeping call allowed me to locate a small Redwing flock feeding on ivy berries around the Ynys-hir Hide. Whilst eyes to the tree canopy in search of movement provided views of numerous Great, Blue and Coal Tit with the occasional Goldcrest and Treecreeper thrown in for good measure.

 Keep a lookout for wing-tagged Red Kites like this one photographed by Keith Roberts.

The Visitor Centre feeding station has been a hive of activity with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Siskin all regulars. Talking of feeding the birds, are you aware that the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend is nearly upon us. Check out this link in order to find out more information on one of the UK’s biggest citizen science surveys.

Other interesting sightings this week included, 5x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, regular), c.160 Teal (Ynys Edwin Pool, daily), 6+ Goldeneye (Domen Las Hide, daily), 1x Great Northern Diver (Breakwater Hide, occasional), 2x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 18th), 8x Bar-tailed Godwit (saltmarsh, 18th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 2x Stonechat (Covert Coch, daily).

 Great views of Redshank can be had from the Domen Las Hide at present (Many Thanks to Keith Roberts for the photo).

Finally, just a quick heads up that the Dovey Estuary will experience some high tides next week, peaking at 5.8m on Friday 23rd (10:14 AM). In terms of wildlife this will result in most of the saltmarsh becoming inundated with sea water pushing wintering birds up and over the railway line and onto the reserve’s wet grassland and pools. A seat in the Ynys Feurig and Saltings Hide should provide great viewing two hours before and after high tide.