Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bloody snow!

First off – unfortunately the InFocus optics demo due to visit the reserve tomorrow has been called off due to the snow. I will issue new dates as soon as I get them.

As regards access to the reserve it is very tricky at the moment and not to be widely recommended unless you have a 4x4 (although I did manage it in my Focus today). Drifting on the last few hundred yards of the approach road is the biggest problem, though the road is basically ice from the A164. Thanks very much to Richard Sears for filling the centre feeders when I could not get this week. Again please ring if you want to access the wildlife centre - it is unlikely to be open tomorrow (Sun 5th) at present.

The rest of my journey was OK – partly because I entered the main Malton to Wetwang road from a minor road, and had a pleasant journey with virtually no traffic on the single track through the drifts – before discovering the road had actually been closed off to all traffic when I got to the A166!

Anyhow on arrival I was confronted with a massacre:

The stoats have been clearly relishing the weather and left this part eaten rabbit in front of the works. As usual they had eaten the best cut – the scruff, and left the rest bar a few innards – a good tip if you ever want the best joint from a rabbit – stoats rarely bother with the rest. The neck wound below is diagnostic of a stoat kill:

Again the only other visitor was Tony McLean – again rewarded by the fox – pictures to follow no doubt on his site. This nice roe was on the approach road with a hare – and Tony got more on the river:

I hadn’t really expected it but D res is now 95% frozen – here from North Hide (sorry only long lens!):

Two small openings remain – mostly filled with coots:

The rest of the ducks are presumably on the river, with teal swimming around the lagoon outlet drain of O woods!

A walk through D woods was very fruitful – 7 woodcock were flushed from the main path of at least 4 individuals. On North Scrub the barn owl was again hunting – often in the wood too – it must unfortunately be suffering:

Likewise no kingfisher sightings for some time now. The local kestrels have resorted to eating passerines now with Richard reporting one plucking a tree sparrow in the houses. This common buzzard was being mobbed by rooks over the scrub too:

At least two goldcrests were surviving in the Norway spruces however:

And these (distant) siskin were finding plenty to eat in the alders with lots of goldfinch too:

Also present was this jay – not the greatest pic in the world but no mistaking it!:

Again lots of interesting prints, including this pheasant (?) take off:

Finally as I was packing up in the office I caught this stoat from the corner of my eye:

As well as sliding in the snow as otters are reputed to it was leaping and dancing as is often reported – transfixing a moorhen which it then attempted to catch but missed just on the frozen centre pond:

I think the final picture sums it up – a lot of wildlife may be suffering – but if you’re a stoat it’s all great fun…