Saturday, 4 February 2012

The freeze before the fall

Prior to vacating at the first falling flakes at 3:45 (apart from one hardened gull enthusiast) this afternoon, ice had been the main feature. Yesterday HVWG sent us in these photos of the forming ice packs – which found great favour with the roosting gulls:

The ‘big freeze’ had already seen off most of the surrounding marshes and drains – like South Marsh East with its lonely greylag here:

This has forced a change round in birds – the pintail had moved to O res (HVWG):

A few shelduck have arrived on the scene:

And the arrival of goosander from other smaller water courses signals cold weather – drakes yesterday by HVWG – with a female today seen by Andy and Bill:

The smew had joined them today too on 'D'. By this morning a temperature of -7 (according to Rory’s dash) had meant widespread ice on D res:

A few had unfortunately succumbed last night which the crow was clearing up – whether it’ll support the fox like last winter remains to be seen. At least the near ermine stoat on North Marsh is feeling vindicated now!:

Alan too has more pictures of the ice and it's wildlife on Flickr.

A sneek peak from the new hide at Hempholme (not officially open yet – more news to follow) gave us our first birds – a pair of curlew finding some soft ground on the flood defences:

A short-eared owl and the egyptian goose were in the locality on Thursday. The monthly reserve walk this morning turned up siskin and lesser redpoll in D woods, amongst numerous goldfinches:

We also saw the melanistic rabbit; much has been in the popular media of late on the success of melanistic ‘black’ squirrels – presumably this is why the rabbit too was contentedly eating bramble leaves a few feet away with indifference:

If you are about on an evening then you may see many of the reed buntings coming into roost in the reeds of South Marsh West and East Pond (HVWG):

And David Ware has a selection of Tophill’s under-rated commonly encountered species on his blog.

Whilst a little egret was seen near Watton Abbey today – no news since Wednesday on the cattle egret – one would hope in the present climate it has found itself somewhere a bit milder. If all this cold weather is getting you down then remember it is spring – the first four dunlin on Watton yesterday with another two today prove it – along with the drumming woodpeckers:

And amazingly these snow drops survived all the tree felling and landscaping at Hempholme to put on a fine display:

Tony has updated his page with a splash of summer colour too – we await the wolves and lynx so long as they and him are not frozen solid in Eastern Europe!

As ever – drive safely on the road in as it is rarely ploughed or gritted – it remains to be seen how the snow is tomorrow. However – Bernie from InFocus Optics tells us he will do his best to attend tomorrow from 10:30 onwards – so if you are in the market for some new kit then make his journey worthwhile! – but check with the Martin Mere office for updates on his progress first on 01484 864729.