Thursday, 19 December 2013

Icey but no winter yet...

Perhaps finishing off the year with a final flourish was another new species for it - 2nd winter Iceland gull on the D reservoir on the 14th of December found by Martin as ever - all the details listed here.  Mediterranean gulls were recorded on the 14th and 15th too.  We wouldn't say no to an ivory though like the one currently residing in its personal fishmongers store at Patrington Haven - all the details on the Yorkshire Birders page.  Perhaps the work of our peregrine may tempt one down:
We knew there had been a victim on the basis of the immense melee over the northern end of the reserve last Thursday.  Turns out this black headed gull found on the mammal safari in Hempholme Meadow was the unfortunate. 

Otherwise regrettably we're still waiting for winter to come in earnest in the form of smew and bittern.  A few woodcock can occasionally be encountered around the reserve, and the female scaup was still present over the weekend, with otter, marsh and willow tit, water rails in South Marsh West, and up to six redshank (one nearly taken out by the sparrowhawk on Saturday which is regularly hunting the area perhaps having had several hearty meals of jack snipe in recent weeks from there) and up to four little egret seen. 

We have managed one new tick though; the first grazers to return to South Scrub for 60 years in the form of two belted and one white Galloway cattle gratefully on loan again from Edward and Nicola at Beswick Hall Farms:
They are there to try and prevent the onward march of hawthorn scrub by winter grazing the habitat prior to growing season and seem to be doing a great job tucking into rank areas already.  They're a hardy breed and can cope well with the conditions - not to say they don't have some luxuries - in case you wondered what became of the car park bathtub! - thanks to the volunteers and the Bishop Burton team for rigging up the water supply:
One of our volunteers taking good care of them - some would say very good (knowing the contents of his chest freezer...):
Barn owl seems to be permanently mounted in the corner of Watton NR at the moment and this buzzard was upsetting the teal last week:
Otherwise we're making the most of the lull to get those all important maintenance jobs done - Ben getting stuck in to digging out the sump pond:
Work on the otter holt continues apace with tree cutting all but complete and just plenty of filthy digging to do to finish. 

Remember the reserve is open every day 9am to 6pm in case you want to escape the relatives or burn off those calories, and as ever we'll be holding the 'year listing' event on the 1st of January; trying to get the maximum bird list together for a day - usually 60-70 species. We'll have two guided walks going out at 10am and 1:30pm - free with standard admission.

Otherwise have a great festive season and thanks for following developments on the reserve over the last year - the highlight which must have been these guys for 2013 (Tony McLean pic):