It’s impossible to predict how any one count will go: there does not seem to be any obvious pattern. This month’s December tally is on the smaller side. In fact the lowest so far this year at 32 snipe including 2 jack. 28 of them were in Big Meadow, 3 in School Pond and a solitary bird in the Hay Meadow. Whilst Upper Sowerholme was devoid of snipe, it did yield 6 fieldfare, a kestrel and 6 teal (probably the same ones spotted earlier on Willow Pond by Graham during his reserve inspection). There was a reed bunting in School Pond; a heron and curlew seen in Big Meadow.
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.
At least we didn’t get drenched this morning! But the reserve marshes are incredibly wet for this time of year. Despite the temperature still being quite high, we flushed 20 snipe, all in Big Meadow. One to took off from Ian’s feet, so probably a jack snipe already back from its breeding grounds in either northern Europe or northern Russia. There was a kestrel hovering over the Big Meadow marsh and another meadow pipit to add to the six noted in School Pond.
A lovely sunny morning for the final flush count of the winter. The highlight was the four jack snipe found in Big Meadow, unexpected this late in the season. They were demonstrating typical jack behaviour: taking off when almost stood on, making no sound, no noise of wings and landing back into the marsh a short way on. Even if their smaller size and shorter bill can’t be seen this is enough to distinguish them from common snipe. Including these jacks, the total number of snipe flushed was 17: 12 in Big Meadow, 2 in Hay Meadow and 3 in Upper Sowerholme. About par for this time of year.
Total snipe sightings for the 2017/18 season were 351. After an excellent start, this final result is slightly lower than the last three years. Notably numbers in School Pond have been disappointing: 54 this winter, against 100+ in previous years. But compensated to an extent by a rise in Big Meadow, the 238 counted this winter being only slightly below the 2014/15 peak.
Other sightings as we walked around were: a kestrel flying over the Hay Meadow; a late redwing in Carr House Meadow; in Upper Sowerholme frogspawn in the Channel, 2 teal, a male pheasant; in School Pond 5 teal joined by the 2 from Upper Sowhrholme, a moorhen and two mallards; in Big Meadow another two mallards, a brown hare, and a female sparrow hawk overflying. Heard were a chiffchaff by Lucy Brook and a greater spotted woodpecker.
Our first foray of the winter through the marshes this morning raised a total of 7 snipe: one in each of the Hay Meadow, School Pond and Flora Field, and a further four in Big Meadow. Small numbers, but still more than the past two years at this early part of the season. Extra sightings were a jay in the Hay Meadow, a kestrel over Lower Sowerholme and a wren in Upper Sowerholme.
As we walked home after this morning’s hedging work, we saw a kestrel flying above Cromwell’s Pond. It was being driven off by a magpie. Hopefully it does not suffer the same fate as the sparrow hawk described in an earlier post.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the bird walk on Saturday morning.
We were out for around an hour and 20 minutes or so, and clocked up just over 30 species in a relatively small area. We took in the Orchard, Pony Wood and FAUNA.
The morning’s highlights included little owl, redwing, kestrel, jay and snipe along with other common species.
I’m already looking forward to our next outing!
Kestrel hovering over the Big Meadow bog and 10 teal on the School Pond this afternoon.
Kestrel hovering over the Fauna fields as the bioblitz of the Hay meadow took place on Friday evening. Apparently the kestrel has become very rare so this is significant.
Kestrel hovering and swooping over Fauna this morning. Also a small flock of small birds in Fauna. They looked at a distance like sparrows but I don’t associate sparrows with ground feeding in fields and flocking. Can anyone enlighten?