For those of you who enjoy keeping yourselves busy during the year by keeping a year list Arne is really offering some great ticks at the moment. Great grey shrike flirting with the eager public today on Coombe heath, firecrest posing for photographs in the car park and long tailed duck drifting off Shipstal point. Add these birds to Arne usual hen harrier, marsh harrier, merlin, marsh tit, brambling, spoonbill and staggering numbers of wildfowl and waders and you have got a perfect place to come and watch wildlife to end 2010 and/ or begin 2011.
So what is your new years resolution? How about lending a hand to our conservation work by coming down on sunday 9th January to one of our 'heathland bash' days where you can help maintain and protect our threatened heathland. For more information see: http://bit.ly/eupCkd. Can't make it? How about coming down to one of our free Wednesday walks which start at 10am from the visitor centre everyweek to learn about our work and the amazing wildlife it helps here? For more information see: http://bit.ly/fZnv8d.
We still had to close off Coombe today due to really icy conditions, but with tonights rain forecast, it should be melted by tomorrow, therefore re-opening the walk. That still didn't stop a top quality list of birds being seen. The great news is that the Spoonbill are back off their holidays, with 4 chilling out in front of the double decker hide (and another 7 in Holes Bay). The car park was another hot spot with 2 Firecrest again present all day, loads of Redwing feeding in the leaf litter, and a male Brambling that was feeding on the ground seed in front of the Visitors Center. Both Marsh and Hen Harrier put on excellent views in front of the hides. Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and Brent Geese made up the wildfowl list, whilst all the usual suspects on the wader front were out in force with around 400 Avocet, Dunlin, Turnstone, Curlew and Black Tailed Godwits. I was shown numerous photos today from visitors, of birds that turned up in peoples gardens over Christmas which consisted of Skylark, Redwing, Fieldfare, Snipe and Woodcock. So just keep an eye out for something different in the garden, and if you can, take a photo because another may not turn up again for a long long time.
I'm very sorry to say that over the next few days (untill we have a thaw) Coome heath nature trail will be closed due to very icy conditions. After going down to check the paths we decided that ice skates were a better option than boots.
The good news however is that the most interesting things at the moment are actually off Shipstal point. Long tailed duck, common seal, large rafts of goldeneye, great northern diver, black throated diver, black necked grebe, slavionian grebe, red brested merganser and perhaps not as rare but one of my favourite birds the elegant pintail.
Apologies again, and have a good Christmas.