I must confess that it wasn’t easy getting out today but it really was worth the effort. Before we’d even left the car park at 10:00am the increasingly regular Great White Egret floated over the bridge and upstream towards the reserve. The car park feeders were as expected rather busy with 2 Willow Tits being the highlight. Whilst the surrounding cotoneasters were dripping with Redwings and Fieldfares today and loads seeped and chacked over our heads all day.
The pools were icier than I’d anticipated so a lot of wildfowl – mainly Mallard and Teal – had moved onto the river. The Rudd Pool meadow was supporting it’s regular flock of Linnets and Chaffinches, then Pete Forbes picked up the Brambling which has been hanging around, even roosting in Keyhole Scrape with the Reed Buntings. Ladywalk looks superb in it’s wintry coat and nothing looks better now than a flock of Bullfinches in snow-covered hawthorns! Lars Jonsson’s book Winter Birds captures it perfectly.
Ladywalk has felt a bit like a zoo lately with high counts of Mandarins (though no sign today), our now resident Fulvous Whistling Ducks with their peculiar calls and today a noisy troop of 9 Egyptian Geese. In contrast the numbers of proper ducks have been down. Only 3 Goosander today and 22 Shoveler, whilst the Wigeon had mostly deserted to larger sites, down to 28. Despite being largely frozen there was no sign of the Bittern. It hasn’t been seen since the 24th November and you wonder if he is still here.
With my mind set on finding winter duck and Bitterns moved by the weather, it was quite surreal to come out of Bittern Hide and see a Swallow skimming across the water and then perching amongst the snowy banks of the Tame! Steve Cawthray saw him later roost under the eaves of Bittern Hide. Let’s hope he has the good sense to move south before he pegs it. More predictably, the Barn Owl looked very content in his Kestrel box, viewable from B Hide.
Mute Swan 21, Canada Goose 34, Egyptian Goose 9, Fulvous Whistling Duck 4, Mallard 174, Gadwall 97, Shoveler 22, Wigeon 28, Teal 106, Tufted Duck 29, Goosander 3, Little Grebe 10, Cormorant 19, Little Egret 1, Great White Egret 1, Grey Heron 8, Water Rail 3, Moorhen 29, Coot 204, Lapwing 72, Snipe 8, Black-headed Gull 101.
Trail Cams Update
Since September this year, WMBC members Anthony Butcher & Elaine Vincent have been surveying the reserve’s mammals. They’ve done a fantastic and very thorough job of monitoring the animals movements so far. Click the link below for a nice summary and photo highlights.
Back from the Brink
You may have seen on our Twitter page news of the Back from the Brink project. This joint venture between a host of British wildlife charities aims to secure the future of British wildlife on the brink of extinction. Back from the Brink involves 20 different projects, preserving species as diverse as Grey Long-eared Bats, Ladybird Spiders and Cornish Path Moss as well as specific habitats.
Here at Ladywalk we are privileged to be hosts to the declining Willow Tits, project number 20. Numbers here have declined from a high of 9 pairs, to just one confirmed breeding record this year and 3 noted on the feeders today. We are doing better though than most and we have a chance to preserve this species on our reserve. We are in contact with the project manager and await info on how we can play a part in the project. In the meantime we are putting up specialist Willow Tit nest boxes out on the reserve at the next work party. If you’d like to be a part of this, please contact us through the blog or twitter. To find out more about Back from the Brink, explore here.