Thursday, 11 February 2010

A chill wind

Colder than ever today thanks to the stiff wind. Despite this there was a good turn out of volunteers with sixteen people turning out to do coppicing and dead-hedging, the hides also got a good sweep out. With spring coming we have perhaps two weeks left to finish the winter work, it is the same every year, in October the winter seems to stretch ahead giving lots of time to get a range of seasonal tasks completed, then from nowhere, it is mid February and the time is all but gone.

Another sign of the end of winter is the increase in the numbers of Chaffinches and Brambling visiting the feeding station at the Woodland hide. This is because the natural seed sources are now running out and birds wander in search of something to eat. Today I saw at least 15 Brambling and heard reports of more. I got a quick picture of a female and missed getting one of a very smart male that already has an almost completely black head. Although there were perhaps 200 birds feeding there a Sparrowhawk which dashed through completely failed to catch anything, probably confused by the mass of potential targets.
Other wildlife today included the duck Red-crested Pochard still on Ellingham Pound and a Peregrine over Ibsley Water at the end of the day. As I locked up the Ivy South hide there were two pairs of Wigeon and Gadwall feeding just below the hide. Seeing them so close and together I realised how different they are in body shape, the Wigeon are remarkably round when viewed from above compared to the much longer bodied Gadwall.

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