Sightings for week ending 29/01/2017

dsc_0509Nearly the end of the month! January has flown by in a flurry of Brent geese and waders! This week has been a good one too. I have spent some time down at Farlington and you may see our hedge laying work down by the building. I’m quite pleased with it, the volunteers have done an excellent job, especially as for many of them it was their first time laying.I also remembered to take my camera out with me for once as did our student from Sparsholt (thanks Gwyneth) hence the overload of images on this post.

The star of the show, in my opinion, this week has been the Marsh Harrrier which has been cruising over the reed bed for a few days now. It is quite obliging and regularly pirouettes mid air whist quartering.  No less impressive have been the Bearded Tits which have been seen a lot up by the building and the feeder, even in the thick fog at the start of the week. I filled the feeder on Thursday so hopefully this may draw them in this weekend.

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Marsh Harrier

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Black Tailed Godwit and Teal – Gwyneth Mitchell

The usual high numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Redshank, Avocet and Dunlin have been in the lake at high tide and Widgeon, Teal, Pintail and Lapwing have been in good numbers across the site. Three Short Eared Owls are still around, using the Point Field and the Main Marsh.

I am please to say that the Brent Goose numbers have rocketed in the last week and where we were only getting a few hundred, well over a thousand are now using the fields, especially the hay meadow. This is much more in line with what we would expect. I was surveying this morning, looking out to Farlington from Broadmarsh. Hundreds of geese were along the foreshore and between the islands and they steadily moved into the marsh at high tide.

The Robins are, to be completely honest, getting to ridiculous numbers in the bushes at the moment. Whilst cutting scrub on Thursday there must have been 20 over the four patches we were clearing. There were also a few Stonechats coming over to see what we were unearthing. One of our wardens thought that they saw a Black Redstart so worth keeping your eyes peeled, it’s a great little bird.

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Stonechat inspecting our handiwork

Southmoor was also very good today. 40 Red-Breasted Merganser were off the point, mingling with Gadwall and Widgeon. There was also a Greenshank sitting on the end of the stream.

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Greenshank

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Marsh Harrier

The Swanwick feeders have been as busy as usual with Nuthatch, Bullfinches and Marsh Tit.

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A beautiful pair of Bullfinches – Gwyneth Mitchell

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A handsome Marsh Tit – Gwyneth Mitchell

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Sightings for the week ending 15/01/2017

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Spotted Redshank (courtesy of Alan Dunk)

A wet end to the week, none of the snow that we were promised though. I suppose that is good, though I do really enjoy the snow. I spent the week at Swanwick mostly where the feeders were overflowing with feeding Blue Tits, Bull Finches, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Nuthatch, Great spotted Woodpeckers and Long Tailed Tits. So, if you want some nice photos of some nice woodland bird species, this is an excellent spot.

A quick walk through Hookheath on Friday didn’t turn up a lot, a few Marsh Tit and Bullfinch but not a lot else.

Nothing has changed much at Farlington this week. Maybe this cold weather will push some more birds down but so far Brent Geese numbers remain low but wader numbers are consistently high. The Spotted Redshank is being very obliging and feeding by the building. I was down there last weekend and the Bearded Tits were at the southern end of the reed bed, flitting around near the outlet. Usually they are up by the building this time of year.

 

Sightings for week ending 08/01/2016

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Pintail Courtesy Alan Dunk

Managed a wander around a few of the sites this week in between work parties and odd jobs. Farlington had all the usual that you would expect. Notably Pintail and Avocet are in large numbers on the lake at the moment. I got an awesome view of one of the Spotted Redshank up by the building. Unfortunately my camera was in the truck rather than around my neck, as is the way.

There are at least two Short Eared Owls still hanging around. One seems to like to roost in a gorse bush on the east side of the point field, which can be seen easily from the gate on that side.

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SEO courtesy Alan Dunk

On a side note there were signs up saying ‘no entry to the point field’. We did not place these and access to the field is still open and always will be. Please stick to the footpath and be conscientious of the birds and other people.

There have been a number of Reed Buntings spotted around the reed bed. The Bearded Tits, as usual, are remaining elusive.

The usual array of woodland birds can be seen at Swanwick Lakes. Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Coal Tit and Siskin are good ones to watch out for. On the lakes there are plently of Gadwall and a Kingfisher is around.

 

 

 

A Quick Note

A busy few days with not  a lot to report, or at least not much that I have seen. I understand there were at least 10 curlew sandpiper at Farlington yesterday, roosting on the Lake at high tide, which is good news for the waterfowl count this weekend. I will give a full rundown of the figures later in the weekend.

I was at Hookheath yesterday, checking the fences in preparation for the arrival of some cattle (at last!) today, the fences were fine, unfortunately I was there during the afternoon deluge, so I got soaked through. The rain meant I saw very little wildlife, a roe deer and several marsh tit were the best.

I have been asked again why the “108ft blog” and I know I said ages ago that I would explain, and I will before I move on. The blog will carry, I might even do a few sneaky posts myself if I am over in south-east Hampshire.

Spring Struggling to get Through

The volunteers were working at Swanwick today, it is testament to the fortitude of our volunteers that we had a good turn out despite what can only really be described as miserable weather. It was cold and rained throughout the working time, rather cruelly it stopped just as we finished work. Tasks included completing the clearance of the island in Centre Lake, although the rain prevented a fire, despite valiant efforts, the cattle trough was cleaned out and the paths had a trim along their edges before the growing season gets underway.

It might not have felt like spring but there was a mistle thrush singing almost continuously through the day and great spotted woodpeckers drumming. Above the bird feeders a male siskin was singing away and in the primrose flanked pond there was common frog spawn, so spring is trying to break through.

The feeders are still being visited by a good range of birds including all the usual great and blue tits, but also nuthatch and marsh tit.

Reports from Farlington today included the red-breasted goose again along with a pale-bellied brent goose, the spoonbill was still present as was yesterday’s female marsh harrier and a water pipit in the Hayfield. I should get there eventually tomorrow, although I have a meeting to attend in the morning, so might see some of them.

 

Not Resting on our Laurels

I was over at Swanwick Lakes today working with two volunteer groups, the usual Monday group who work at the reserve and the Beechcroft team which had diverted there today from the intended task at Hook Heath. Looking at the weather forecast I was not sure we would even be able to do a task, but as it turned out it was not too bad. We had another day getting to grips with the cherry laurel, these have spread from a couple of groups and a hedge and we now have seedlings popping up in many areas of the woodland.

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laurel cutting

The morning was not even that cold, despite light flurries of snow as I was driving to the reserve. We went back to the Centre for lunch with rain starting to fall, as we ate the rain fell more heavily and I was uncertain as to how much we would do in the afternoon as the prediction had been for increasingly heavy rain. In fact it eased and then stopped and we worked through without a problem. There is still much to do to stop the laurels regrowing but at least much of phase one is now done.

Cutting large laurels is not very compatible with seeing much wildlife, but at lunchtime the feeders by the Centre were very busy with the usual blue and great tits joined by a few coal tit at least one marsh tit and a pair of nuthatch. On the Centre Lake a pair of gadwall had joined a couple of pairs of mallard.

Tomorrow I am at Farlington Marshes again, I hear the red-breasted goose has not been seen for a couple of days and this evening I think I know why, it or another was seen today on Thorney Island over in Sussex, so it seems probable we have been abandoned.