Christmas comes to new Wetlands Centre
The heady mix of barbecue smoke wafting through the galleries and food a' plenty to suit all palates, engendered a unique party atmosphere; conversation and merriment flowed. Laughter and chatter imbued the old byre with a totally new identity.
I can honestly say it was the best barbecue I have ever attended. The smoke replaced the need for alcohol and stimulated conversation. By the end, we'd solved all the problems of the world.
The comfort and wellbeing of the 'old' manger had followed an early morning session of gorse burning so the workparty were already benefitting from the effect of smoke inhalation before the party started.
At this stage could we particularly thank the two Chefs de Barbecue for their excellent efforts, though how they survived the effects of the smoke they were enveloped in for at least an hour – defeats me!
A wintery scene over the Solway.
The month started off very cold with strong north-westerly winds bringing showers across the estuary. Good numbers of wildfowl were building up on the Reserve
Wigeon on Meadow Pools.
Moorhen and Pheasant picking around together.
A fine sunny day with a strong wind, although south-westerly by now. The morning brought forth 40 Whoopers on the Meadow Pools along with good numbers of Teal and Wigeon. After lunch a flock of 1100 Barnacles(Norman's count) plus a leucistic one, were to be seen on the marsh around Saltmarsh Pool. A Little Egret and Shoveler were frequenting the Pool here. Further sightings were of Barnacles at Anthorn and 21 Whoopers in a stubble field near Rogersceugh farm (RSPB).
Whoopers on the 1st Meadow Pool - mostly adults.
Family group including four juveniles on Meadow Pools.
Wigeon and Teal had been feeding alongside the Whoopers.
Flock of Barnacles grazing the marsh beyond the Saltmarsh Pool.
Barnacles landing on the marsh.
Little Egret on Saltmarsh Pool.
Egret and Shoveler - Saltmarsh Pool.
High tide roost of Oystercatchers beyond Saltmarsh Pool.
Barnacles on the marsh front near Anthorn - 4.15 pm
Whoopers (21) on stubble near Rogersceugh - 4.40 pm.
First frosty morning of the Season.
Duck on wetland in front of hide, in early morning sunshine.
. . . and having a fly round.
Massed Wigeon on Meadow Pools.
Photographed early morning. These Whoopers had been roosting here overnight.
Meadow Pipit enjoying the morning sunshine on the wet meadow - from 1st screen.
Grey Heron looking rather splendid on the edge of the saltmarsh.
Small flocks of Wigeon floating in with the tide - Scargavel Point.
Large flock of Barnacles on estuary pastures just beyond the Reserve's boundary fence.
Whoopers at Angerton.
As there was considerable goose and swan activity on the Solway today, we decided to take a trip round the Cardurnock Peninsula and then onto Black Dyke near Silloth, where there had been good flocks in the past. As we approached Cardurnock we could see Barnacles flying over the estuary pastures. Passing through Cardurnock we came upon a flock of approximately 3000 including 3 leucistic birds, on the fields ahead. Crossing the river Wampool we carried on to Angerton where 93 Whooper Swans (including 9 cygnets) were grazing rough pastures on the right hand side of the road. Further on at the Black Dyke crossroads 99 Whoopers (including 8 cygnets) were grazing grassland towards Seaville.
Barnacles landing at Cardurnock.
A leucistic Barnacle amongst the flock.
Golden Plover flock under Anthorn Masts.
Whooper Swans at Angerton.
Another flock of Whooper Swans at Seaville.
Workparty was out in force today coppicing gorse at West Common, on a very cold windy day.
All hard at work.
Work party packing away tools.
A cold sunny day. Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwings were about. The Little Egret was flying regularly along the saltmarsh and hunting in the dubs.
Little Egret is a regular visitor to the Reserve.
Blackbird was observed guarding a hawthorn on the marsh front.
Song Thrush in competition for haws.
Little Egret hunting in dubs
. . . and jumping out
. . . then flying off with its catch which looked like a small fish!
Small flock of about 200 Barnacles were resting up on the mudflats at 11 am this morning. Later on a number of small skeins were seen heading west along the estuary close to the marsh. Still plenty of Little Egret activity and a good number of Wigeon were to be seen around Saltmarsh Pool.
Barnacles resting on mudflats at Scargavel Point.
Further skeins were heading west.
After lunch this flock was spotted out on the marsh beyond Saltmarsh Pool.
Wigeon around Saltmarsh Pool.
Curlew had been curiously watching the Little Egret's feeding activity.
Four Little Egret spent some time flying back and forth along the front of the saltmarsh.
Four landed together on the marsh in front of the hamlet.
Our resident Crow, 'Hero', was soon on the scene inspecting these activities.
The Egrets were not to be deterred, however.
Stephen had finished off the wall round the 'bird garden' with some stone slabs.
It looks fine!
. . . and Marjorie and Neil had completed the trough planting.
On this beautiful sunny morning we were greeted with the sight of about 200 Barnacles on the mudflats. As the tide came in later some of them moved up onto the Saltmarsh near the viaduct.
Early morning this group could be seen walking along the mudflats.
Some decided to head for the saltmarsh.
Leucistic Barnacle was amongst this flying group.
They were quite restless
. . . but some eventually settled up on the marsh near the viaduct and began to graze.
Account of John Howard's most recent visit to the Reserve.
"Although it was windy and mostly cloudy I spent a pleasant hour around midday at Campfield today, 10th. As soon as I left the car park I could hear the Whooper Swans calling from the first pond. The cloudy weather caused me to shoot a high ISO of 500, but I got a few reasonable shots. After that I went on to the hide but found the diggers were busy there so I didn't stay. I do hope though that the enlargement of the pond in front of the hide will attract the birds, it would help us get better photos. Later I walked slowly back down the Lonning and stopped again to look at the Swans. After a few minutes they took off and gave me the chance of some action shots. At that time three shoveler's took off but flew away from me. Before going back to the car, I slipped through the little gate on the other side of the Lonning and shortly a Little Egret came in off the marsh putting a nice finishing touch to the day."
Adult and juvenile Whooper on Meadow Pool at 11.40am.
Adults at 11.43am.
Mixed group of adults and juveniles at 11.43am.
Whoopers taking off later
Shoveler also flying off the Meadow Pools - 12.12 pm.
Little Egret flying in off the marsh - 12.27 pm.
Many thanks John for this interesting account.