Thursday, 28 January 2010

Speeding toward the end of winter

The last week or so has been pretty hectic, with all manner of last minute happenings interrupting the best laid plans, although this is not that unusual it does seem to have been especially bad just lately. I desperately need things to settle down if I am going to get close to completing the winter work program, because one thing is certain, winter is on the way out. In only about five weeks Sand Martins will arrive, so the nesting bank needs to be completed. There are various areas of coppice and pollard to finish as well as the final bits of work on the new Ivy South hide, education shelter and webcams. And I still need to get the potholes in the track filled, as I am frequently reminded, I just need some dry weather to do it in.

Although we have had an increase in temperatures and the ice is all gone some of the birds remain. Three of the Red-crested Pochards are still on Ivy Lake, all females and including one pale leucistic bird.
The Smew first seen about two weeks ago, or at least I assume it is the same, turned up on Rockford Lake yesterday and finally allowed a few people, including me to catch up with it. The picture must vie for the title of my worst posted here so far, but it is a picture of the bird and the best I have got. It is a "redhead" which is to say either a female or immature bird, it is very hard to sex them in their first winter. Although the white areas do look very clean compared with some I have seen I cannot say for sure that this proves anything.
On the shore next to the Smew was the ringed Great White Egret and I understand the second birds was at Harbridge as well. Other birds seen yesterday included Cetti's Warbler at the Ivy North hide with another calling in the silt pond beside the path to the Ivy South hide and two Water Rails at Ivy North. Perhaps most surprising was Crossbill calling in the trees at the Centre as I arrived, although it, or more likely they, flew off without being seen.
The turn-out of volunteers for the Thursday morning session was impressive and we caught up on several tasks. The pollards and coppicing advanced considerably, a section of redundant fence was removed and the fire pit for use by the Education team was completed apart from the top sand layer.
The reserve is entered into the BTO/EDF Birds and Business challenge this year so I am keen to get all the records I can for the area each month. So far in January we have recorded 93 species, not bad but we are in the same category as the likes of Rutland Water so we could do with a few of last winters grey geese to drop in if we are going to keep in touch.

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