Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Saturday 9th February

The weekend epitomised in a picture (c) Bark

Visitors to the stock pens. All pics (c) Bark

Two pictures from earlier in the week when the sun shone (c) Terry Sherlock

Another great Barn owl shot (c) Andrew Marshall

Just one visit to the moor this weekend as the weather on Sunday was so dreadful. There is little worse than trying to keep optics and cameras dry, and if you wear glasses it is like looking at the world through a bathroom window. (not that I make a habit of looking through bathroom windows!!)
Saturday was only a little better than Sunday but we did manage to see a Barn Owl hunting in the car park Field as we arrived and there were a lot of wildfowl to be found. The three White-fronted Geese were still keeping company with the Greylag flock and seeming to commute between Ashgrave and the Flood Field. Duck numbers appear to be up again especially Teal and Wigeon. Now that the surrounding land has drained the birds are concentrated on and around the waterbodies on the reserve. There were over fifty Pochard on the northern lagoon the largest number that I have seen this winter. A Great Crested Grebe was the first one seen on the reserve this year. A few more ducks are now appearing on the Ashgrave pools in front of the hide amongst them two drake Pintails, looking particularly smart in the gloom.
Hen Harrier and Bittern had been recorded during the week but failed to put in an appearance on Saturday. There has been a lot of work done on the southern reedbed it is now much more open and views extend much deeper into it. A lot more edge has been created, which gives better feeding opportunities to the Bitterns and the water level has been raised to encourage small fish deeper into the reedbed. Already there have been some good Water Rail sightings earlier in the week. It could well prove to be much more attractive to waders when the spring passage takes place.
Goldcrests and Tits were easy to see in the hedgerows on the bare branches and there seem to be good numbers of Reed Buntings present everywhere at the moment.
I spent some time watching the comings and goings around the cattle pens where we put out a fine seed feed and was pleased to find a female Brambling coming in with the Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, Redpolls and Dunnocks. It is well worth standing by the gate quietly and letting the birds come to you, it is surprising how confiding they can be. It can give you something good to see even on a disappointing grey and rainy day.

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