The heavy rain kindly eased as we started the count this morning but we were walking though a lot of standing water in the marshes. The snipe however seemed quite happy with the conditions on the reserve, with an excellent total of 81 flushed (breakdown: Hay Meadow 1 common; School Pond 19 common and 1 jack; Big Meadow 45 common and 15 jack). The difference in the behaviour of jack and common snipe was very marked. Common snipe can go up en masse, many metres away. The team were taken by surprise when barely entering School Pond caused a group to burst out of the rush and scatter. Impossible to be confident of exactly how many, so the consensus was 15. In contrast, jacks hang on until the last moment and so tend to go up singly. Most were found at the end of the route through Big Meadow, and seemed to be favouring the clearing areas within the marsh. Several times a jack snipe narrowly avoided being trodden on by the next step.
The count scheduled for the start of the month was postponed because of heavy rainfall. The marshes remain extremely wet. With the weather still mild, a digger working on Alder Pond at the top of the Big Meadow marsh and most of the cattle in School Pond, we were not optimistic about snipe numbers today. But the overall tally of 57 (including one jack) was at the higher end for this time year. All bar one which flew up from School Pond were flushed from Big Meadow.
Multiple skeins of geese (someone will have recognised them by their calls but not me, sorry) flew south over the reserve this morning, and at 12.15 four buzzards were circling and calling over the allotments and no doubt making sure the Wednesday Work Group left on time and locked the gates properly.
A total of 14 snipe were flushed by the team on Monday. All from Big Meadow and all common (it is a bit too early for the jack snipe).
Yesterday afternoon there was a short break from the rain around 2.30 p.m. The arable field had 20 greylag geese and 50-plus herring gulls. And the area in the SW tip of the arable field next to Pony Wood had around 45 house martins and 3-4 swallows all flying low and gorging on the flying insects. In addition, there were about 40 goldfinch feeding on the thistle seeds.
Saw a Roe buck in Flora Field on the evening of 13 July 2021. He was foraging amongst a weedy line in the barley field and was visible from the bench area next to the one at Harries View. Nice set of antlers. Seemed to be on his own.
A very, very small smooth newt* eft crossing the path by Cromwell’s Pond this lunchtime.
Hand for scale; I didn’t pick it up, just lifted it off the path with a dandelion leaf.
* I think… the yellow strip on the back matches the eft photo on the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smooth_newt
This female sparrowhawk was in the ash tree on the Fauna path on Wednesday afternoon.
Look out for Dan’s winter bird count and Rob Zlock’s diptera survey on the website. Now follow the link to the surveys directly from the home page.
New black calf born yesterday (12 May) evening. As I was passing the field opposite the Hay meadow there was a convention of cattle who had gathered around a new mum to greet the arrival. A very wobbly black calf was being licked and welcomed into the herd.