Two days in one, although most fo the sightings refer to yesterday as I was only on site briefly today.
I started out at Southmoor on Thursday, where the path in from Southmoor Lane needed a cut back, this hedge was planted about seven years ago and has grown pretty well, although it now needs thinning and laying if it is to continue as a useful hedge rather than becoming a line of leggy trees. The downside of this job is that the path is used by lots of dog owners as a dog toilet, making progress along it a smell and generally unpleasant experience. I did see my first pheasant of the year though so. The field to the south of the path is a former playing field that had reverted to long, rank grass where we have introduced grazing in an attempt to improve it for wildlife. I was delighted to see a group of 10 brent geese grazing, one of our target species for the site and my first sighting on the field.
The group consisted of three pairs, two with two juveniles each. There are very few families with juveniles this winter, but those there are tend to feed on grass more often than those without and often away from the groups with no young to avoid competition. A quick look around the neighbouring Budd’s Farm pools and nearby shore added tufted duck, pochard and greenshank to my yearlist. The pools attract a good few duck and, in the past had small roosts of waders at high tide, although the banks seem to have grown up somewhat, I would be useful to get them cut again if possible.
I then headed to Farlington for some lunch and heard reports of the red-breasted goose on North Marsh, although I could not see it from the Building. I did hear a few bearded tits and singing Cetti’s warbler though. I also finally saw some ringed plover near the entrance to the reserve by the Eastern Road roundabout.
I then went to Hook Heath to see what had been the effect the very high floods there before Christmas. The answer was not a lot, although the flattened vegetation bore witness to the very high level of the water and the rapid flow rate. There were several more car parts along the river along with sundry other debris, all of which will need clearing. Overall the reserve was quiet, although I did add nuthatch, marsh tit and raven to my yearlist.
Today I was briefly at Farlington Marshes and saw the red-breasted goose, distantly with brent geese at the Willow Pool, right at the southern end of the reserve. I also experienced a close fly by from a fine adult male peregrine, it then landed out on the field near the Scrape, another first for the year, taking me to 96 species so far, perhaps I will top 100 this weekend.