The new sluice has now been installed in Phase 3 of the reserve - this is the section mostly hidden by the wood diagonally to the right of the first viewing platform. Its left hand edge (western edge) is defined by the large wind pump. Having a sluice in this new position will help us control the water in this section more easily and reduce the need for our diesel pump and thus save money in the long run. The water levels in here are now coming back up slowly but there is still plenty of exposed mud and splashy areas.
The Little Gull is still on site and been seen every day so far this week in this area - offering some fantastic views. See last weeks sightings blog for some photos. The area is also a favourite haunt for Teal at the moment with 500+ birds gathered there. The Great White Egrets too seem to favour this area at the moment with up to 4 being spotted regularly. They can be picked up when in flight from the first viewing platform and one landed directly in front of the platform on Tuesday afternoon and stayed for half an hour or so. Little Egrets too are frequenting the drained area along with flocks of Lapwing and a few snipe (which seem to be popping up in ones and twos in several areas of the reserve.
Whilst watching the Little Gull on Tuesday a Kingfisher also flew past, showing really well and Bitterns have been picked up in this area also throughout the week as well as from the first viewing platform.
Sparrowhawks are being seen every day at present and this one was photographed in the Loxtons section by John Crispin on Tuesday 20th Dec.
Marsh Harriers are also being seen on a daily basis with a male bird still being seen frequently in the Waltons section although both male and female birds have been spotted on the northern side of the reserve this week on a few occasions. A kestrel has also been seen hunting on the reserve this week in front of the second viewing platform. The area here has become a lot wetter this week due to the high rainfall and these splashy fields have attracted large numbers of Rooks and Jackdaws with a few Starlings mixed in for good measure.
The Starling flocks are continuing to show well and still seem to be favouring Ham Wall at present - with the first viewing platform still the best place to start at the moment - but check with the Starling Hotline if you are planning a visit 07866 554142. Here's a couple of shots to get you in the mood:
Both these images were captured from the first viewing platform with the second one taken just this last week on the morning of the 18th Dec over Waltons. Thanks again to John Crispin for these great shots.
It's worth remembering that the Starlings can be just as impressive taking off in the morning - you get the full impact of the numbers of birds and of course, you are guaranteed to see them if you were there the night before, as you know exactly where to look.
Also on the reserve this week: Green Woodpecker seen in the small wood diagonally right of the first viewing platform., Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Goldcrests by the first viewing platform and groups of 3 or 4 down the tree line of the rail track, Buzzards, Siskins, Repolls, Treecreeper (in trees by Loxtons/railway line edge) and Bearded Tits heard 'pinging' in several areas of the reserve.