A Waxwing spent all January 3rd moving between corner of Leighton Drive / Willow Lane and the hedgerow along the path to the rear of Willow Lane. The ornamental tree it was feeding on has been stripped so bird has probably moved on.
The first flush count of the winter this morning put up a total of 22 snipe, all common. All bar one (Hay Meadow) were in Big Meadow. A reasonable tally for this point in the season. The marshes are very dry, the recent rains clearly still replenishing the water table after the summer’s drought. Other notable sightings: two dunnock flying along the Upper/Lower Sowerholme boundary and a jay in Pony Wood. And something unidentified rustling amidst the phragmites which are now quite dense in parts of Upper Sowerholme.
We used a different contractor this year (producing lager bales which are cheaper and use less plastic). Unfortunately there was no opportunity for volunteer help. The good news is that, unlike last year when we were unable to get a crop because of the wet summer, we now have lots of nice dry hay for the cattle in the winter
With School Pond dry for the first time in several years, two plants have taken advantage. The one spotted by Graham (14 July) has been identified as marsh cudweed:
It has now been joined by creeping yellow cress:
By the eastern gate there is a patch of common knotgrass, which is too straggly to photograph easily.
Further sightings in the Hay Meadow marsh include common fleabane:
There has been a good patch of this near the Cromwell Road gate in previous year but it seems to be spreading with clumps by Cromwell’s Pond and elsewhere.
Also a woody nightshade and hogweed:
Could some-one identify this for us please
Swallows were swooping over the Wednesday Work Group as we worked to clear algae from the Alder Pond in Big Meadow. We were careful not to go near the moorhen’s nest and found this newt.
As we were packing up, a mother mallard emerged from the marsh with her chicks, we think eight, and led them on to the water, clearly appreciating our clearance.
Whilst the Wednesday Work Group were working in Big Meadow this morning we observed two buzzards being ‘bombed’ by a group of noisy seagulls.
On the way back I observed an interesting bird very busy adjacent to the larger Fauna path boardwalks. From its dark head and white chin I summised it to be a nuthatch but I’m by no means certain of this. Any thoughts from our birders?
Two pairs of goosander on the School Pond this lunchtime.
Yesterday another sighting of a hare in Big Meadow and long tailed tit in the Orchard
This was the tally of snipe in the Fauna fields this morning, including one Jack in Big Meadow. After two months with bumper counts, the measly total of 27 was the lowest December figure since we began doing flush counts. Possible explanation is too much standing water in the marshes.
Making up for this disappointment, two water rails were noted. One was identified by sound, calling from Lucy Brook at the back of the Hay Meadow. The second took flight from the Big Meadow marsh, about a metre away from me. And then just after we got home Paul spotted a buzzard flying over the Hay Meadow.