Hello friends ...
Here I am again to deliver today's sightings from your favorite reserve !!
Beginning on Wath Ings ..
Reported from here were 3 shelducks and a sparrowhawk ..
There were 3 lesser redpolls seen over by the Bittern Hide and goldcrests were seen again on Green Lane ..
Over on the Mere were goosanders (no numbers today), 5 pochards and 10 grey partridges ..
There was a kingfisher seen over by the Wildlife Ponds and 2 lesser black-backed gulls were seen passing over ..
The Bird Garden was busy as usual with plenty of opportunities for budding photographers .. Seen here were a great spotted woodpecker, willow tits, long-tailed tits, bullfinches, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits ...
They have bean bags in there you know .. I went in for a lie down the other day but was quite disappointed when I saw how tiny they were !!!
Another sighting was a kingfisher which was reported from Wombwell Ings .. Nice to hear that the water level on there is getting better too ...
I'm sure there was something else ..... Now what was it ?
Ah yes ... The bittern flew into the reedbeds at 11am today ... ;-)
Well ... Our mate the bittern is thrilling on a daily basis now ... Long may it continue of course !!!!
So there you have it chaps .. All done for today ..
Apart from ....
Did You Know ?
The nest of the long-tailed tit is constructed from four materials - lichen, feathers, spider egg cocoons and moss, over 6000 pieces in all for a typical nest. The nest is a flexible sac with a small, round entrance on top, suspended either low in a gorse or bramble bush or high up in the forks of tree branches. The structural stability of the nest is provided by a mesh of moss and spider silk. The tiny leaves of the moss act as hooks and the spider silk of egg cocoons provides the loops; thus forming a natural form of velcro. The tit lines the outside with hundreds of flakes of pale lichens - this provides camouflage. Inside, it lines the nest with more than 2000 downy feathers to insulate the nest ..
Outside the breeding season they form compact flocks of 3 to 30 birds, composed of family parties (parents and offspring) from the previous breeding season, together with any extra adults that helped to raise a brood. These flocks will occupy and defend territories against neighbouring flocks. The driving force behind the flocking behaviour is thought to be that of winter roosting, being so tiny they are susceptible to cold and so huddling increases survival through cold nights.In February–March, all members of the winter flock will pair and attempt to nest, with the males remaining within the winter territory and the females having a tendency to wander to neighbouring territories. The long-tailed tit's nests suffer a high rate of predation with only 17% success.Pairs whose nests fail have three choices: try again, abandon nesting for the season or help at a neighbouring nest. It has been shown that failed pairs split and help at the nests of male relatives, recognition being established vocally. The helped nests have greater success due to higher provisioning rates and better nest defence. At the end of the breeding season, in June–July, the birds reform the winter flocks in their winter territory.
Clever stuff eh ??
Night friends !
Evening viewers !
Plenty to tell today ...
So here we go .. Straight into the Mere !!
Sploooooooooooshhhhh !!!! ;-)
Seen there were stock doves, linnets, jackdaws, 10 grey partridges, a green woodpecker and a goldeneye .. Thank goodness there was something on the water !!
A sparrowhawk was seen near to the Visitor Centre and a weasel was spotted on the first bridge leading to the Wildlife Ponds ..
Wath Ings had 5 dunlins, c2000 golden plovers, c300 lapwings and a flock of 45 linnets, one of which was leucistic ...
Great spotted woodpeckers (male and female) were seen in the Bird Garden along with bullfinches and a couple of pheasants ..
Bullfinches were also seen on the car park feeders and there were 2 yellowhammers and a female reed bunting over by the Tree Sparrow Farm ..
Goldcrests were seen along Green Lane and the Bittern Hide had a water rail, another yellowhammer and .... the bittern !!
It was seen in the same area at about 11:00am ...
This is becoming quite regular now so if you have never seen a bittern, you could do far worse than taking a trip out here and speaking to the guys in the Visitor Centre to get some directions ..
A nice report to finish on was a little owl which was seen on Broomhill Flash ... Always happy to see these 'wee' guys .....
So .. There you go ... All done ...
And now it's time for Educational Corner ...
Leucism, or leukism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers. As a result, the birds do not have the normal, classic plumage colors listed in field guides, and instead the plumage have several color changes, including:White patches where the bird should not have any Paler overall plumage that looks faint, diluted or bleached Overall white plumage with little or no color discernable
Leucism is not to be confused with Albinism though ....
Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism, the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire bird ..
Just to keep it even more interesting there are also melonistic birds !!
Melanism, or melanosis, is a condition caused by a genetic mutation that gives a bird excess amounts of melanin in its feathers. This makes the feathers much darker than normal plumage, and many melanistic birds appear completely brown or black.
If it isn't bad enough trying to learn the various plumage variations !!!
Night friends !!
Evenin all ...
Here we are, most of the way through another Monday ...
Good stuff to report again from Old Moor although we were lacking a report of the Cetti's today !
The Mere had a female goldeneye, shelducks, mallards, gadwalls, teals, shovelers, great-crested grebes, wigeons, pochards and 4 common gulls ..
There was a yellowhammer, a willow tit a and redwings seen on the Tree Sparrow farm ..
Wath Ings had a dunlin and a shelduck and there there was a peregrine falcon and 10 grey partridges seen near to the entrance to the car park ..
Willow tits, long-tailed tits, bullfinches and a great spotted woodpecker were all present in the Bird Garden and a weasel was seen outside the back door of the visitor Centre ..
A final report was of our friend the bittern .. It was again seen in the reedbeds to the left hand side of the viewing screen (but just a bit further along the path) as yesterday at around 2:45 ..
OK .. Keeping with tradition ..
Did You Know ??
Bitterns are a classification of birds in the heron family, they frequent reedbeds and similar marshy areas, and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. The males make a remarkable far-carrying, booming sound in spring. Not unlike someone blowing across the neck of an empty milk bottle ! This sound can be heard up to 3 kilometers away ..
These males are known as 'Boomers' funnily enough ! ;-)
In particularly bad winter's small numbers of bitterns will fly to Britain from northern Europe .. The RSPB said that in 2009, 82 male birds were recorded across the country, but that it believes that in 2010, the influx from northern Europe, due to the freezing conditions on the Continent , the number could have been three times as many !
Its dependence on reedbeds and very small population make it a Red List species - one of the most threatened in the UK. Owing to habitat loss and persecution by collectors and hunters, the bittern became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK in 1886. Early last century, the bittern returned and its numbers steadily increased to a peak of about 80 booming males in the 1950s. But then, further habitat loss, as the reed beds became dry and unsuitable, led to a second population crash. In 1997, just 11 booming males survived at seven sites around the country.
On a brighter note, Conservationists said the results of the latest survey of ''booming'' males, which experts are able to count from their loud, distinctive boom-like call, revealed there were 104 birds across England, up from 11 just 15 years ago. The majority of the booming males (85%) in England were heard on nature reserves. This obviously underlines the importance of such places ..
When frightened, the bittern stands perfectly still pointing its neck and bill skywards, to look just like a reed stalk. It's never an easy bird to see due to it's excellent camouflage and once it freezes it can just seem to disappear completely ..
Yes folks, these guys have had it tough .. Lots of hard work has gone on (and still is going on) in order to try and help the bittern to enjoy continuing success ..
Remember what you have learned today friends and the next time you see a bittern you will be excused for having a lump in your throat ....
Have a great evening everyone !!
There are many, varied creatures living at Old Moor - and I don't just mean some of our wardens!! ;) Among them are some which have amazing stories attached to them, making Old Moor something of an exclusive address I think, a bit like a star packed Hollywood hills neighbourhood. But in Barnsley! Bear with me here........
Take this little fella:
A willow tit. Captured by Ian Butler near the Tree Sparrow Farm area at Old Moor.
South Yorkshire is one of the limited home ranges of this special little bird. Old Moor is lucky enough to have a breeding, but small population. This is increasingly special as willow tits have recently been added to the species being monitored by the national Rare Breeding Bird Panel. This special attention is necessary because of the scary 91% decline in their population nationally between 1970 and 2008.
They are a bird of damp, scrubby areas. It's strong neck muscles give it the 'bull necked' appearance which is one of the subtle variations between it and the similar- to-look- at, marsh tit. It needs these muscles as it excavates it's own nest hole, only a metre or so from the ground in rotting tree trunks. We are too tidy as a country these days and tend to see ground with fallen or rotting trees and scrub as waste ground, ripe for development or landscaping. In doing this, we are removing potential homes for the willow tit and others, to raise a family.
This picture was particularly welcomed by our wardens as it showed a bird without a small metal BTO ring on it's leg. A bird or possibly birds, with a ring has been the only one/s seen for some time, so we now know there is atleast one more on site. Great news!
Our Tree Sparrows, another red listed bird of serious conservation concern, are particularly close to our hearts at Old Moor. We've seen the population slowly rise and then drop a bit after the 2007 floods until now when we've just had a decent breeding season again. So to see this picture from Ian again, made me smile...
A tree sparrow hanging around in a hedge. It's nearly a 'tree'... I like it when they do what their name suggests - so much simpler for me to understand!!
These two are resident all year round, but others travel a long way to be able to stay at our exclusive address.....
White Fronted Geese, by Ian Butler. As Ian said... "Not a great shot, but they were travelling really fast!! Lol."
If you read our Bert's recent 'Did You Know?..' entry in one of his blogs last week, you will know how strong these birds have to be to get here. To avoid freezing to death in either Greenland or Siberia, they have come over to Barnsley, where the grass and water may get chilly, but it won't be frozen solid for months (we hope!). Unlike many of those I'm lucky enough to know and learn from, I'm not an expert enough birder to hazard a guess at whether these birds are from the Greenland race, which is darker with a more orange bill or the Siberian or Eurasian race...... I'm just happy to think that they have safely made it all those miles and to wish them a happy stay, until they head back to the (ahem) place that they may or may not have come from!!!
(Maybe I should have just blamed Ian's photograph, saying it wasn't clear enough from this picture?! Note to self: must try to look more knowledgeable and impressive in future ;) .....).
So..... we have some of the stars of the bird world here! Just keep following us, or read past blogs, to see what other creatures make it special too..... Old Moor -it's a 'des res'!!
Evening friends ..
Had a nice afternoon out on Old Moor today !!
I was lucky enough to be there when the bittern was seen .. We saw it a couple of times in flight as well as lurking in the reedbeds..
Some good stuff in the Sacred Diary too !
Here is today's report ..
The Bird Garden had a great spotted woodpecker along with some tree sparrows and 2 willow tits ..
Bullfinches (both male and female) were seen feeding on the car park feeders ..
The Cetti's warbler was reported from the reedbed area as was a green woodpecker .. We also saw a barn owl over there too while waiting for the bittern to put in another appearance ..
A water rail was seen from the Bittern Hide ..
On the Mere were 10 grey partridges, pochards, tufted ducks, mallards, teals, gadwalls, shovelers, 3 shelducks, coots, moorhens, great crested grebes, a drake goldeneye, another green woodpecker, mute swans, 8 dunlins, lapwings, a golden plover, 6 goosanders, a lesser black-backed gull and Canada geese .. There were also 2 sparrowhawks seen here ..
There were plenty of lapwings and a redshank on Wath Ings, a yellowhammer on the Tree Sparrow Farm and 2 goldcrests on Green Lane ..
A report from Wombwell Ings was of 3000 golden plovers .. So that's where they are !!!
So .. Back to this 'ere' bittern .. It was seen on and off throughout the afternoon from 11:45 am through to 3:25 ..
I managed some 'dodgy' photographs .. I took about 20 in all and chucked 19 in the bin ;-)
I was quite pleased with this one though !!
Night friends !!!