Friday, 29 October 2010

Woody's return

Much earlier than expected our woodcock made its return on Sunday to the hedgerow at the back of the wildlife centre. For those that don’t know it (or more likely various individuals) have been sunning themselves under the hedge bottom for several winters now – giving excellent and seldom seen views of one of the best camouflaged birds out there. The picture below is from last year – no doubt more to come:

We have taken the opportunity to undertake some hedgerow management over the last couple of weeks – and also banged in these stakes which should make my life easier to show it to viewers – rather than ‘look behind that clump of grass…’

Also to make sightings easier we are gradually lowering south marsh west at the moment to expose a shallow shelf which proved very popular with water rails last year. There are at least two on the marsh at the moment - never seen but often heard squealing. The photo below shows the location from the O res hide:

And here from the back to back hides:

Please note however we will be undertaking some necessary management work here on Saturday 30th from 3pm and Sunday 31st for most of the day - so apologies in advance.

Sunday also saw the first and most welcome slavonian grebe on D reservoir – viewing conditions were very poor – so well done John Hirschfield for finding it! It may still be there for all we know – as even when you know there is a slav or black neck on the res. they can be impossible to find.

Other birds of the week have included various siskin around the car park, green sandpiper and fine drake pintail at Watton NR, hundreds of redwing, common sandpiper on south marsh east, and this rather dull black-tailed godwit (in comparison to those here two months ago):

At least the teal are taking on their plumage again rather than the scruffy brown of the autumn moult:

An unfortunate find was the discovery of these mink prints in one of the sampling beds – a mere 4 days after the last one was removed – so the dynasty is not quite out…

Better news came courtesy of Craig Ralston – Senior Reserve Manager at the Lower Derwent Valley NNR. If you remember a previous posting I had put up a shot with a request for info on ‘mute swan 339’

Craig gives the interesting low-down here –
‘It was ringed at the Lower Derwent Valley NNR to the south east of York, at Mebourne on the Pocklington Canal on 12/8/2001 as a cygnet by Natural England staff as part of our waterfowl ringing programme. Its one of 500 mute swans ringed in the valley and one of a handful which have appeared at Tophill over the years (but the first for some time). We have also had movements of shelduck, wigeon and an unfortunate ruddy duck from the LDV to Tophill so clearly (and unsurprisingly given the distance) a link between the sites’

- Thanks again Craig – nice to see how the wildlife travels around the various reserves in the region.

Remember it is the 'roost walk' on Sunday night at 4pm - drop in no booking necessary - to view the gull, greylag, corvid and possibly starling roosts...

Finally this little egret came into roost at Watton – before getting up to fly onto Barmston drain to feed at 17:45 the other night. Unfortunately ISO1600 and a 1/25th shutter speed doesn’t make for the sharpest image – but I’m sure it would look great on a wall in someone’s London pad!