Have you ever been in awe of what you are seeing and realise too late that the camera is dangling from your neck? That is exactly what happened on a walk recently close to dusk time. We were investigating places where there could be Harvest Mouse nests. We will be doing a survey sometime soon. Let me know if you are interested in coming along. The more eyes, the better! The ideal time is to look over winter in long grass, particularly by the line of the hedge. Anyhow, we passed one of our owl boxes, so I thought I’d look for pellets. Before I had a chance to look, I realised I had 2 eyes staring at me and instead of lifting the camera, my jaw dropped in awe as a beautiful silent barn Owl flew out over our heads. Oh well, next time…..!

There had been a lack of small birds flying on our walk, except for a few redwing and a single siskin, so I thought I’d look for something else. I noticed some ragwort still flowering, so I wondered what other plants there would be.  We saw smooth Hawk’s beard, some bugloss and something I always like to see, as I have a collection in my garden of different species, common storksbill.

Good also to see a red admiral. They seem to have done well this year.  Ladybirds are also still out and about in this mild autumn. Well, that is 2 of at least 1945 insects we have here on the reserve!

 Birds have been passing through the Pits and only recently there were over 200 wigeon on the Heronries. On the water bird survey (WeBS) today, the duck numbers were down again, but at least there were some goldeneye on both the Heronries and Island Pit. The kingfisher was busy fishing on the Sailing Lake. Always lovely to see. Also, in this era of Avian flu, I was pleased to see some black headed and common gulls.

Our work parties are in full swing again, during the winter months. A way to keep warm and keep fit. The last one was tree layering. Some of the hawthorns have grown so much, very few birds nest in them. Tree layering produces scrubby growth, perfect for many birds who nest close to the ground and brings light into the area.

If you want a reminder of wildlife and sunny days at Paxton Pits, our calendar is for sale in the Visitor Centre. Please pop in and pick one up. All in aid of improvements on the reserve.

Finally, the trail cameras are still showing up lots of animals we don’t see very much from stoats to otters. We added up the number of mammal species we have on the reserve. We reached 31. Can you work out what they are? Maybe you can make it more. Let me know if you do.

I am always interested in hearing about your sightings on the reserve or if you want to be more involved. Please let me know at friends@paxton-pits.org.uk .

Best wishes


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