Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sawbills in the Moonlight

Luckily the rain overnight did not last long, so the Dockens Water was quite a bit lower today and Ivy Lake was actually flowing out over the spillway where it had become over full yesterday.

When I opened up the Ivy North hide the bittern, or at least the one to the left of the hide was there again, fishing. At the Woodland hide and later at the Centre good numbers of brambling, including several fine males, were feeding on the ground.

I spent the latter part of the morning planting some hedging and sorting out redundant tree guards off old plantings along Mockbeggar Lane. The soil is pretty poor and there are a lot of rabbits so life for a young tree is hard. After picking up some bird food I dropped briefly into the Tern hide and saw at least 4 white-fronted geese with the greylags.

I have been drawing up a list of the tasks that need doing before we get to spring, there are far too many of them and too few days. As well as the usual round of coppicing and pollarding, I am hoping to thin some of the older plantings and clear the small willows from the area where we are planning to put in some ponds. Then there is the sand martin bank, all the holes need to be cleaned out and filled with new sand. The tern rafts need to be made ready with new shells, tracking these down is a task in itself and the stick nesting rafts need to be refurbished. There is still rhododendron to clear and potholes to fill and so much more, still we will never run out of tasks.

At the end of the day I went over to the Goosander hide, I had a bit more time this evening so was able to stay until it got dark, not leaving until five thirty. It was an excellent evening and I was rewarded with at least 125 goosander in the bay by the hide, also a dozen or so goldeneye, including a displaying group of five drakes. With the goosander was the single female red-breasted merganser and the set of sawbills was completed when the 2 smew flew in to join the goldeneye. The smew are very evidently a duck and a young drake, he is strikingly larger, especially in flight.

As I headed back to my car a fox was calling loudly and a bright, almost full, moon was casting shadows along the path, bright enough to allow the use of binoculars, although I never did see the fox.

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