Yesterday’s flush count was most satisfying: the second highest monthly number of snipe since the counts started in January 2013 and a new record for Big Meadow. A slow start with 3 in the Hay Meadow and 6 in School Pond, where the whole area was awash. But in Big Meadow, they were flying up in groups. 110 counted, eleven of them jacks. Add in the one seen earlier by Graham on his walk-through in Lower Sowerholme gives a total of 120. Now well ahead of the measly score for the whole of last winter.
Snipe were not the only highlight. Meadow pipit were seen in Big Meadow and School Pond, where a scurrying vole was almost trod on. We also saw the curlew spotted by Christine. It was feeding in the southern end of Big Meadow and then moved to the Willow Pond area of Lower Sowerholme. A male peregrine flew westwards over Big Meadow.
On the more grizzly side, but evidence of wildlife presence, there was a mallard skull in Big Meadow, a skinned hedgehog in School Pond and some dried out frog spawn on the grass in the Hay Meadow.
As the Saturday volunteer group were working along the Long Pads footpath a large flock of linnets were alternating between Flora Field and West Field. Well over a hundred I would say.
The Wednesday Work Group watched a kestrel hunting over Big Meadow but the highlight was the frequent sighting, over the course of all the morning, of a curlew busy amongst the soft rush.
On Monday afternoon we saw two shell duck in the West Field wetland and a couple of roe deer peeping out of Upper Sowerholme toward the Fauna path.
Did anyone record the row deer we disturbed last Saturday whilst sowing the Flora Field seed margin? It ran out of Pony Wood and across the ploughed field and into Lower Sowerholme.
A heron took off from Alder Pond as we passed this morning and a sparrowhawk was on patrol over Big meadow during the morning.
A shell duck took off from the vicinity of Willow Pond and flew in a big circle around the Reserve this morning.
Six shell duck observed over the Reserve yesterday. I think they took off from the West Field pond. They then made a big sweeping circle around the Reserve. Then off toward the estuary.
Also sparrowhawk perched on a dead tree between Upper and Lower Sowerholme.
Walking across Flora Field (arable section) this morning during the volunteering session I flushed a large group of snipe (at least 6, probably 8-10) from the lower northern slope, towards Lower Sowerholme, and then a further 2 nearer Pony Wood. They must have been tucking into small creatures in the recently-spread manure. I was headed for the beetle banks and the water supply points, which needed marking with tape to alert the ploughing contractor, so I certainly didn’t cover the whole field. Maybe next season the flush count needs to include Flora Field as well as the wet areas, at least after the muck has been spread?
It was a very misty morning with low cloud and low visibility, but we heard geese passing over – greylag I think- and several curlews in the distance, down towards the estuary.
Two song thrushes amongst a gang of blackbirds in the Orchard on Tuesday 28th January
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.