Thursday, 17 March 2011

African arrivals

The weather may not be forthcoming but the birds are. The first reports of sand martins came in on Sunday with a further 3 birds picked up over 'O' res this afternoon. The other herald picked up today was the first chiffchaff - calling in D woods, next will be the little-ringed plover...

Other than this the usual winter brigade are still in residence - these brambling were on the feeders and looking excellent:

A pair of pintail were on South Marsh East today, with a lone red-head smew present usually on Watton. A merlin was over O res this morning, with sightings earlier in the week including thermalling buzzards and two little egrets. Of premier note were a pair of egyptian geese loitering with intent at South Marsh East which could be an interesting development for the season.

Less hopeful was the sighting of a 'huge' mink on North Marsh at the weekend, with a different individual removed at the southern site this morning - not something we want at this time of year. However it wasn't picked up by the photography crowd of North Marsh - Tony McLean, Rory Selvey and Martin Hodges were all in getting different takes on sparrowhawks and what must have been a rather chilly grass snake!

Elsewhere there continue to be plenty of great crested newts in the ponds of the site:

And the larch trees are in flower where the branches are low enough to see:

Finally excellent news is that the results came in for the BTO Business Bird Challenge 2010 today, and we have managed to win the 'conservation initiatives' category for our large wetland class. Unfortunately we only managed fourth in our bird tally - the winning site having 169 species over our 142 for the year, not suprisingly all winners were south and west of us and took advantage of a winter which pushed most species these directions.

However winning the conservation category is a great accolade for and recognition of all the hard work put in by the many reserve and Hull Valley Wildlife Group volunteers helping out practically and in survey work, the outside teams who have helped us like the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Future Jobs Fund Team and also Yorkshire Water's investment into the site over the last year to finance it all.