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.
Graham couldn’t have a picked a more glorious morning for doing a winter flush count in Fauna. Paul and I went along with him to provide extra pairs of eyes. Hardly a surprise given the amount of rain recently, but the marshes are holding a very good amount of water. Graham got first-hand evidence of this when his wellie sank into a particularly boggy bit and water plus liquid mud started to run down inside it.
Two snipe were seen in School Pond, but the Big Meadow marsh was again the star. 42 snipe counted here, particularly encouraging as the numbers should build as the winter progresses. We also disturbed a brown hare. It shot out of the north end of the marsh, wheeled left and ran down by the fence on the Pads path following the edge of the marsh. It bobbed back into the marsh, but then spotted us again and turned away to carry on southwards between the Pads path and the marsh edge. My initial glimpse was of its white tail going away. but then we were treated to very clear views once it was running along out of the reeds.
Richard Storton (RSPB) has also been in Fauna this morning, planting a few extra phragmites in Upper Sowerholme. He was pleased to report that the seedlings we had planted in August 2012 seem to be establishing quite well. Some are already approaching 1m in height. He spotted 4 snipe (refugees from our earlier sweep of Big Meadow?). He also caught a glimpse of a woodcock.