Tag Archives: long tailed tit

More people than snipe?

A glorious sunny morning had brought out the walkers to enjoy the delights of the reserve. Unfortunately we were not able to entertain them with clouds of snipe rising into the air. A measly total of 31 (including  4 possible jacks). A far cry from the record 160 flushed at this time last year. For the season as a whole though, the count is much the same as for winter 2015/16. The breakdown was 1 in the Hay Meadow (presence of the cattle for the past couple of days may have disturbed the birds here), 7 in School Pond, 4 in Upper Sowerholme and 19 in Big Meadow. The teal are still in evidence on School Pond – 11 birds flew off as we plodded through. Also a moorhen in School Pond, heron and reed bunting in Big Meadow, a wren and a long tailed tit in the willows near Anna’s Pool.

Disappointing results

Snipe numbers on the reserve have previously been on a rising trend at this time of year. Not so today. A measly total of 38 (including 2 Jack), down on December and considerably lower than January in the past two years. Picking Jon’s brain for an explanation and the mild weather is probably a factor, allowing the snipe to disperse more widely. But the recent flooding could also be playing a part. It is creating new (albeit temporary) pockets of habitat full of drowned invertebrates, which present lush feeding opportunities. The number of snipe roosting on the reserve therefore may well be higher than this count suggests.

In terms of spread between the fields, the Hay Meadow again yielded a higher number than anticipated. 11 birds, principally flying off from around Cromwell’s Pond. This marsh is now full of standing water, so perhaps this greater wetness is more attractive. In contrast, the Big Meadow marsh was not much wetter than normal and only 9 birds were counted, including the 2 Jack. School Pond yielded 14, Upper Sowerholme the remaining 4. But still no woodcock, nor were there any teal on School Pond.

Other highlights: a single long tailed tit in a tree by the Fauna footpath near School Pond, a female reed bunting near the old alder tree and two meadow pipits in Big Meadow.