It’s that time of year again when everyone’s topping up the feeders and hoping our feathered friends stick around for the 2015 Big Garden Birdwatch, which has arrived this coming weekend and us lot at Arne will be getting up to all sorts of fun at the weekend, all garden bird based of course...
Our fantastic visitor hut team will be on hand all weekend to answer any of your garden bird questions. We’ll have advice on putting up bird boxes, gardening for wildlife plus what to feed your garden visitors to keep them at the peak of fitness. As well as that we’ll be going on lots of impromptu guided walks throughout the weekend, just a short walk to show you what species we have around the hut and tell you all about them. Events are happening between 10am and 4pm.
If all that isn’t enough, there’s hopefully going to be a Bird Ringing demo on the Saturday (10am-2pm) thanks to the Stour Ringing Group. This is weather dependant so rain and/or wind could put the stoppers on it.
Of course, all this is to encourage you to head home and take part in this huge national survey. I read a prediction that there could be over a million eyes watching birds this weekend so let’s make it happen!!
Marsh harrier hunting by yogi Bear
Despite high winds over the weekend and driving rain on Saturday morning, the birds of prey certainly turned up for our annual Raptor Weekend event. We had two main lookout points on the reserve, on Coombe Heath and Coombe Fields (an area not usually open to the public), and were delighted to see eight different birds of prey over the weekend; several Marsh harrier, Barn Owl, Kestrel, Buzzard, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, several Merlin and at least two Hen Harrier!
Some highlights included close up views of a Barn Owl perched, and flying in broad daylight, a peregrine sitting in a field for over an hour and a very obliging Merlin who sat on a post treating onlookers to an excellent view.
If you missed the event, don't despair! Now is still a great time to spot Raptors at Arne, particularly over the Middlebere Channel so why not pop over any day and ask at the visitor hut for recent sightings or advice.
The reason the raptors are here is down to the huge number of smaller birds on the reserve at the moment so there is plenty to see; Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing, Teal and Wigeon. It's a spectacular sight to see thousands of wading birds take flight to evade a hunting bird of prey!
Don't forget it's the Big Garden Birdwatch on the 24th/25th January and we'd love to know about the sightings in your garden. We'll also have information at Arne about garden birds that weekend, guided walks and even a ringing demonstration (weather permitting) More details about BGBW weekend to come soon.
Just a quick update just before our winter Raptor Weekend kicks off tomorrow. Thankfully the raptors must be aware of it as today we’ve seen 2 Hen Harrier and a Merlin on the reserve. Hopefully they’ll stick around for the weekend! Aside from the raptors, the waders are still providing the main spectacle. 700 Avocet today in Middlebeare has been typical as of late, plus all the other regulars including the odd Spotted Redshank which adds to the variety. Spoonbills are still numerous from the Shipstal Hide.
Non-avian highlight of this week so far has to be a sighting of a female Adder from this afternoon! Odd reports from around county of butterflies and bumblebees are another sign of unseasonable warm weather though our Arne bee’s and butterflies are proving elusive but it was enough to bring the Adder out. Perhaps we’ll see some life over the next week or two?
Hopefully see some of you over the weekend. Viewpoints will be manned Between 10am and 4pm though if the weather proves too much you’ll find us sheltering in the hides... We’ll be here regardless of the weather and hopefully the birds will too!