What a difference a few days make. The Water bird survey (WeBs) was not a wash out but a white out! The fog and the hoar frost meant that all the dedicated surveyors were only able to see birds close to the edges of the lakes. On Sailing Lake, the birds, such as the black headed gulls, tufted ducks, mallard and the odd lapwing clustered around the areas not frozen near the edge. Ten Canada Geese flew over low, joining others we could not see. The larger lakes were even more difficult to survey. One of our bird watchers went back  to Pumphouse Pit later and managed to put the wigeon count up to 350.

We have had quite a few blue-sky days and one of them was, when the mist cleared, when we went up to Pumphouse Pit to fill the new sand martin banks. These are in preparation of when the quarry completes their digging up there and their usual sand banks will be filled in.

Walk past the Bus Stop hide, and you will see that we have also been weeding and extending Grainne’s Mound for the solitary bees.

On clearer days more of the winter birds are being seen. There are goosanders to be seen, as well as green sandpipers and goldeneye. We have had several visiting snipe and if you are lucky you might even find a Jack snipe, as one of our regular birders saw on Sailing Lake. Tufted duck are increasing in number and it is worth looking through them to find a scaup.

The predators are around as well, such as raven, now a regular visitor. There also seems to be a kestrel staying local.

Each season brings something else to look for. 2 specialist fungi groups have been in recently and 2 new species for the county have been found- Amanita strobilformis (warted Amanita) and Lepiota pseudolilacea (a dapperling).

Well, Season’s Greetings to you all. If you are still looking for a present, how about an environmentally friendly one? We have many specialist second hand books for sale in the Visitor Centre in aid of the reserve. If you are particularly interested in the New Naturalist Series, let me know and I can send you a list.

I look forward to hearing about your wildlife news in 2023.


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