Well the forecast nice weather has finally arrived - although I am not sure that I like this warm weather at the end of October!
Things have quietened down on the bird fron as you would expect at this time of year - although there are still groups of thrushes coming in on a daily basis. By far the highlight the last couple of days has been Ralf our resident white tailed eagle; he finally seems to have mastered the art of hunting and has been seen taking several victims since the weekend. He has developed the technique of flying rather slowly and very close to the ground across the low ground to flush everything and then with a couple of powerful beats of his huge wings suddenly speeds up and lazily sticks out his leg and skewers some unfortunate beast on his talons before flying off and consuming his hard won snack! Great fun to watch but would not want to be on the business end of his bill though!
Following on from the rain the water levels are now slowly dropping although they are several days away from the usual depth for this time of year, and if the forecast is correct and more rain is on its way who knows when we shall get dry ground in front of the centre again!
So where is this nice weather that the forecast keeps going on about? Outside it is a strong south easterly wind with yet more rain - we are starting to run out of places to put the stuff!
As it is easterly decided to combine our weekly wildfowl checks with a visit to the plantation! Well when I was able to use my bins managed to find just a single chiffchaff, handful of goldrest and a few blackbirds and got soaked in the process! Although I was not as wet as one of our field teachers who had a group on site today - they were hoping to go pond dipping but due to excess flooding were not able to! I hope we have now solved that issue as the inlet for the pond dipping area was jammed open and the outlet was blocked! Having got slightly damp closing the inlet and opening the outlet was pleased to see the water level starting to drop until it started to rain yet again and the levels in the feeder ditch are getting close to being higher than the inlet yet again!
Lets hope tomorrow is a drier day!
Well the weather was all it was forecast to be - strong south easterly winds with rain. Ideal for migrants, so dragged my reluctant children out on a couple of occasions as there was bound to be something good in the plantation. Despite getting soaked and cold all we could manage was a couple of ring ouzel in among many mixed thrushes, 30 plus goldcrest, woodcock, several chiffchaffs and two blackcap, this would be a good haul if it was not for the fact that within half a mile of the reserve there weren't firecrests and black redstarts both of which we have not seen on the reserve this year!Oh well if it was easy there would be no challenge! Lets hope that something was blown in but has been cowering in the bushes in the foul weather and needs to feed up over the next couple of days giving us a chance to find it!
Our resident eagle has continued to impress visitors and scare the living daylights out of the geese. The most unusal record though must be of a slavonian grebe on the pools in front of the visitor centre for the last couple of days. They are scacre visitors to the Loch itself but I cannot find any other records of thtem dfor the visitor centre pools.
Well having been off for a few days everything seems to have changed. Having struggled to break 200 species on the reserve last year this year we have sailed past and are now on 204 - the latest additions being crossbill, little auk, yellow browed warbler and richard's pipit (the last one was our sixth new species for the reserve this year taking the reserve list to an impressive 266)
Goose wise we have had a bit of a clear out with a very disappointing count of just under 21000 on Sunday, lets hope that some of that was due to the clear night and so birds were still out feeding in the fields.
The forecast is looking good for the rest of this week so perhaps 210 is achievable, watch this space.................
Well after last years extreme frustration of getting stuck on 199 species on the reserve in a calander year this year we have broken that magic figure with time for a few more! On Saturday one of centre volunteers had a covey of red legged partridges on the entrance track. Although a common species nationally they are remarkably rare on site with the last record being from 2002! The 200 species was a bit more satisfying in the form of a male ring ouzel that came in with an influx of winter thrushes.
The ouzel was found whilst freezing to death counting the pinkies as they came out of roost - we had a hugely impressive count of 55300, the sixth highest ever on the reserve. About ten days earlier we had had just under 61000 birds in the roost so this has been a very good autumn so far