Finally an encouraging flush count! In fact, the highest January total of snipe since the winter of 2014/15. 59 birds flushed including 5 jack snipe. Breakdown was 39 in Big Meadow, 7 in School Pond, 8 in the Hay Meadow, 4 in Upper Sowerholme plus one by the ponds in Flora Field. In addition, the first woodcock of the season was spotted in Upper Sowerholme.
There was a heron in Upper Sowerholme, probably the same one Graham had seen earlier in the Flora ponds and then in Willow Pond (Lower Sowerholme). Likewise the 6 teal seen in Upper Sowerholme and the 4 flying over Big Meadow were probably part of the group of 11 Graham had disturbed on Willow Pond. Also noted were a meadow pipit and a wren in Big Meadow and 4 female pheasants in Flora Field.
Another very wet tramp through the marshes this morning. A total of 37 snipe flushed, one of them a jack. Breakdown was 1 in Hay Meadow, I in Upper Sowerholme, 3 in School Pond and 32 in Big Meadow. There was a water rail calling in Upper Sowerholme, and a rodent scurrying amongst the Big Meadow rush (possibly a field vole). Also noted were 4 meadow pipits amongst the reeds in Upper Sowerholme and another two in School Pond, along with a wren. Earlier in the morning Graham had seen three herons on Willow Pond (Lower Sowerholme) and a cock and two hen pheasants in Flora Field.
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.
February’s flush count was brought forward in the light of this week’s FFOG meeting which – among other things – will be discussing our progress in attracting birds to the reserve.
Very wet underfoot again, but an otherwise lovely morning for wading through marshes. An encouraging start in the Hay Meadow, where 17 common snipe were flushed, was followed by a ‘high’ figure for Upper Sowerholme of 7. School Pond yielded 24 snipe (including 1 jack) and Big Meadow 40 (including 2 Jack) making a total of 88, much on a par with this time last year.
Teal were again on School Pond (though only 4 birds) in the company of a moorhen, A heron was spotted in Big Meadow, as were 5 female pheasants and a wren. A brown hare was disturbed in the depths of the marsh. Last seen it was running off in the direction of the FA shed.
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.
Today’s snipe tally was double the number recorded for early March in the past two years. A total of 81 birds, of which 6 were positively identified as Jack snipe. The Hay Meadow took us by surprise as five snipe took off right away, followed by another three. Eight is most we have found in this field. This marsh is really boggy now with loads of standing water. Perhaps they prefer these wetter conditions? Upper Sowerholme yielded seven common snipe. School Pond – more pond than rushes at the moment – provided the first Jack of the day as well as 25 common snipe. Then in Big Meadow we counted 35 common snipe and a further five Jack.
Only one woodcock today, as usual in the brambly corner of Upper Sowerholme. But lots of other birds to compensate:
* two water rail in Lucy Brook close to the Cromwell Road gate
• 20 redwing flying over from Pony Wood to land in the trees on the edge of Big Meadow
• four female pheasants in the Hay Meadow
* a total of 11 teal flying off from School Pond in ones and twos
* a moorhen and four mallards in School Pond (all possibly seen again in Big Meadow)
• three wrens in the vicinity of the old alder tree in Big Meadow
This morning’s flush count yielded an amazing total of 119 snipe! The breakdown was: Big Meadow 78 common and 7 jack; School Pond 23 common; Upper Sowerholme 8 common and a further 3 common in the Hay Meadow.
It was strange to be cracking through ice as we plodded through the marshes. With School Pond frozen over, the teal were having to look elsewhere. We saw a group of 9 flying around and finally settling by Lucy’s Pool where there was some open water. That corner of the Hay Meadow again yielded a woodcock and another two were spotted in Upper Sowerholme, along with a heron. Jon noted a female sparrow hawk flying over Big Meadow and a kingfisher flying over the Hay Meadow, probably going away from the canal. There was a wren in the hedge between the Hay and Big Meadows and another wren in the Big Meadow marsh close to the old alder tree. To round things off nicely, a brown hare ran along the edge of the marsh close to the Pads path, heading north until it saw us and turned back in the direction of Flora.
Today was the first count of the season. And the weather seemed to recognise it! Graham, Paul and I found ourselves once again wading though the marshes in squalls of rain. This year’s explosion of Water Figwort has made some parts of the marshes even more of a struggle to negotiate. Whether it is also making the vegetation too dense for snipe is yet to be established. It is probably too early to expect many snipe around yet. However, Graham spotted one in Lower Sowerholme (the ex-Gleesons Field) and five flew up from the Ash Tree Pond area of Big Meadow. (Graham had also found three here on his last monthly inspection on 1st September.) Otherwise the only other bird identified was a wren in the Hay Meadow by Lucy Brook. , For the first time, the phragmites reeds that had been planted in Upper Sowerholme had grown high enough to be readily visible. They appear to be establishing reasonably well.