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?
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.
The final flush count of the winter yielded just 16 snipe: one in the Hay Meadow, one in Upper Sowerholme, six in School Pond, five in Big Meadow and – for the first time – three in Lower Sowerholme (Willow Tree Pond). But whilst the snipe are moving on now, there were plenty of other birds about. A chiffchaff was singing in the trees around Upper Sowerholme. BIg Meadow yielded a mistle thrush, meadow pipit, male reed bunting, blackbird, moorhen and two mallards. There were another two mallards swimming on the pool in Upper Sowerholme. Flying over the reserve were a heron, buzzard and sand martin. There was just one female teal in School Pond, but her behaviour suggested that she could have a nest.
An inspection visit to Upper Sowerholme today revealed a snipe – which is intriguing, because although there are plenty in Big Meadow we don’t often see them elsewhere – plus a hare. One male wheatear was again clearly visible in Big Meadow. Richard, our RSPB expert, says that it had probably stopped off on passage to feed up before heading for the uplands to breed. He also said that there were so many snipe in Big Meadow during the winter that it’s entirely possible that some may be nesting in the rushes in the middle, even though they too generally breed in the uplands. It’s virtually impossible to be sure, but a good sign might be hearing them ‘drumming’, i.e. defending their territory, at dawn or dusk. If anyone’s around then and does hear them, please do report it here.
Also spotted a pair of buzzards taking off from Pony Wood, where a woodpecker was drumming; and a ‘leucistic’ crow (with unusual white wings) towards Cromwell Road.