I like Teal.  So, it was good to see that 402 Teal were counted on our Wetland Bid Survey (WeBS-a British Trust for Ornithology run survey) on Sunday. Generally, the ducks seem to be slow at arriving at Paxton Pits this Autumn. The winds have been blowing the wrong way and the weather has not been cold. Teal are a dabbling duck and are our smallest duck in the region. Their collective name, a Spring of Teal, explains their ability for almost a vertical take-off and then almost immediate corkscrewing manoeuvres to put off predators. A few Goldeneye were also seen in their usual area near the south shore of Island Pit. This is a bird associated with being first seen around here in the cooling Autumnal weather. Since the 70’s they now breed in Scotland as well as the higher latitudes. The other highlight of the survey was a Great white Egret.

I also like Treecreepers. They can be almost invisible with their lichen-like patterning of their upperparts. I can count on one hand how many I have seen on the reserve. So, when we were taking some photos of bat boxes, it was lovely to watch 2 of them creeping up and down one of the tree trunks. And maybe, it is because the leaves are almost off the trees, I then went on to see another one, as I was looking for water birds at Post 17 off the Haul Road.

Not all wildlife can be seen with the naked eye and the use of a microscope is needed. One of our volunteers has been looking at Diatoms from Rudd lake. These are single celled plants which are contained inside a silica shell. Most diatoms produce a sheath of mucilage and some extend this into a stalk and are then known as stalked diatoms.  Basically, if we didn’t have diatoms, there is less to eat in the food chain. Worth googling to find out more.

Something that doesn’t eat diatoms are Water Voles, as they are vegetarian. However, they are also not easy to see, so it was great when 2 of our volunteers saw one yesterday on Weedy Pit. They were about to photograph it when it dived! Has any-one else seen one on the reserve? If so, I would love to know, especially if you have managed a photo of it. Please let me know your sightings on    friends@paxtonpits@hotmail.com .

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