A bitterly cold day for the volunteers at Farlington today , so we decided to work at, in or near the Building so at least we had some shelter from the wind. We made some “nest boxes” for bearded tits, these are not boxes at all but bundles of reed with a void in the centre made from a small wire cage with a wooden top. It is a very simple idea but it does work, bearded tits like a dense clump of reed to nest in with good overhead shelter. Rain is bad for them both because their open nests are not great in a downpour but also because heavy rain bends the reeds over and so can empty the nest contents out. These bundles do not bend and the wooden top gives them good shelter.
We made ten in all and also cleared the yard and a few other jobs and all without getting too cold. In fact at lunchtime a rare sighting was made of a shadow, so the sun must have been somewhere out there.
When restacking some of the timer in the yard a resting common toad was found as well as two small newts, I think they were smooth newts.
The Marsh is still playing host to almost the full complement of winter birds, with 2000 or more dark-bellied brent, long after most of them would normally have departed. I also saw the regular pale-bellied brent and the red-breasted goose in South Marsh using the telescope set up at the building. the spoonbill was also around all day as was a female marsh harrier. I had a few goes at digi-scoping the harrier in flight, never a good idea really but here are some of the results.
The wings get into some interesting positions.
It got harder to get anything like in focus the closer it got.
It is quite a distinctive individual with the dark spot in the centre of the crown.