Sightings for week ending 12/03/2017

Its been a busy week down Farlington this week. Lots of Bearded Tits, a Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Barn Owl, tons of Curlew, Brent Geese and Shelduck and still a Short Eared Owl or two. There was a leucistic duck by the building Tuesday which I think was a Gadwall, despite being positioned next to a Pintail.

Today was particularly gloomy but there were 500+ Dunlin feeding on the mudflats west of the marsh with a few Black Tailed Godwits and Redshank mixed in. There was also one solitary Avocet roosting on the lake. I haven’t seen any Avocet around for a little while, despite the high numbers earlier in the year.

Spring really descended on Thursday. We were working in tshirts at Swanwick Lakes, basking in the warmth on the edge of the lakes. Whilst we were sat at lunch we had a Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and a Red Admiral pass by! These are the first butterflies that I have seen this year.

I think Saturday will be the better day this weekend and so will be a good opportunity to see the last of the waders and wildfowl. The numbers have certainly dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks and it will be sensible to keep an eye out for the first of the summer migrants. Reports of Wheatears and House/Sand Martins have been arriving across the country for a week or so now!

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Sightings for week ending 05/03/2017

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It’s been a mixed week weather wise and I think that this will carry on into the weekend with Saturday looking good but Sunday turning grim. So if you are getting out, Saturday would be the best bet.

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I have managed to spend a lot of time down at Farlington this week which has been lovely. Thursday was a fantastic day where we worked in the reedbed and I am glad to say that we were absolutely surrounded by Bearded Tits. I waded into the reed to look for a ditch and four were sat in a tall stand. They were pinging around us all day. Unfortunately this does not help you if you wish to see them as my best views have been whilst standing deep within the reed. I have seen them regularly near the feeder by the building and I have tried to keep it stocked with grit. I have also put millet in and the Reed Buntings are often present.They have started singing as well, I had a lovely view of a pair today.

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With some reasonable spring tides the marsh has been alive with birds. Well over a thousand Brent Geese were in the deeps on Tuesday and today they moved onto the top of the north marsh. Wigeon, Lapwing, Teal, Shelduck and Pintail are still in high numbers and today there were a good number of Grey Plover and Dunlin on the deeps.

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I sat at the lake after checking the sluice today and I was graced with a fly past from the Short Eared Owl and then the Peregrine put everything up. Later in the afternoon a Barn Owl floated up and down the eastern sea wall before heading into the bushes. This combined with a Buzzard and a feeding Kestrel made for a good day for predatory birds.

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There was a Kingfisher reported by the deeps today and I saw one at Southmoor this morning, hovering above the inter-tidal area.

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All in all there are still plenty of waders and wildfowl in Farlington but they’ll soon be going so it’s worth getting down for a last look.

Saturday 4 – Shelduck Puzzle

Although Saturday felt one of the first true summer days we have had there are also signs of autumn creeping into view. The lapwing are starting to flock up, or at least the ones that have finished nesting are. A few have reared young and a newly fledged chick at the Deeps was a good sight, one of between six and eight to have fledged this year. I don’t expect to see any more now and those that have failed will give up now and start to moult. The redshank start to nest later than the lapwing and there seem to be at least four pairs with young at various points around the marsh. The last of our nesting waders is the oystercatcher, although strictly no pairs nested on the reserve itself this year, one pair is nesting on saltmarsh just over the wall and they are still sitting on eggs. I say sitting, although on Saturday afternoon the female was not keeping the eggs warm but standing over them to shade them from the sun.

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A range of duck species can be seen on the reserve all through the summer these days and almost all may breed in some years. The most regular breeder is mallard, no surprise there, next is shelduck and after that in rough order tufted duck, gadwall, shoveler and teal. All have been present this summer but only mallard seem to have nested successfully, so I was very surprised to find a nearly fledged shelduck on the Lake. Stranger still it was very close to the sluice with two mallard, not at all typical behaviour.

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On Monday morning a possible explanation came to light, it seems it probably came from an animal rescue centre having been hand reared, which explains the unusually approachable nature of this normally rather shy duck.