Let's hope the weather changes before I run out of really bad weather related puns.
However, for today is was still the snow and cold temperatures dominating with access along the entrance track difficult now.
The birds are obivously finding things tough with several signs of the hard weather affecting them. A lot of the geese are spending the day feeding in the wild bird cover on the way to Tower Pool as many of their preferred feeding areas are under snow.
In the plantation a noticeable arrival of species fleeing harder weather was recorded; the highlight being 14 Woodcock, with 18 Goldcrest also sheltering in there. The lagoon was also providing shelter for a variety of species, including a Short-eared Owl, 11 Snipe and 29 Meadow Pipits, although even here the weather was having an effect (see Jack's photo of the Cut below).
In the feeding areas around the car park there were plenty of birds including three Bramblings, a couple of Yellowhammers and the rather chilly Pied Wagtail pictured below.
We may be over the worst of the snow, but the easterly winds and cold temperatures are set to continue for a while yet, so there may well be a few more interesting species to come...
Apologies for the lack of updates recently, especially to anyone who has been worried about us in all the snow! The reserve hasn't been hit as badly as some other parts of the region and we're still open (and we'll let you know as soon as possible if that changes), although the one mile section of road between the A90 and the reserve was worth taking very carefully today.
The weather is having a big impact on the birds. The pools, Low Ground and Loch are all at least partially frozen so a lot of the wildfowl may well have moved on (there's a goose count on Sunday which will give us a better idea of what's happening with them). Last time we had similar conditions, the ice sheets were pushed across the Loch by the strong easterly winds and sliced through a considerable section of the reeds, resulting in great views of the Bittern that had been secretly hiding in them up to that point!
The snow has also had a big impact on farmland birds, with the wild bird cover dragging in flocks from the surrounding countryside, with 300 Linnets, 75 Reed Buntings, 120 Yellowhammers, 110 Skylarks, 10 Corn Buntings, 250 Woodpigeons, a Song Thrush and 11 Chaffinch counted today on a survey walk (that was cut slightly short by a blizzard). A couple of Snow Buntings and Woodcock (with another Woodcock by the Fen Hide boardwalk today) have also been seen recently and I'm sure a few more species will appear in the next few days. There are also Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and other small birds constantly overhead as they struggle to find unfrozen feeding areas.
The only other sighting of note recently has been a Greenland White-fronted Goose (an uncollared bird) on Saturday.
Snow joke: the view from the Visitor Centre today.
...one collared goose!
Ok, so it isn't quite Christmas, but the snow today has been somewhat 'festive' and made today a good day for catching up with office admin!
One of the things I thought I would do was to let Dr Tony Fox, of the National Environmental Research Institute in Denmark, know that we had seen one of 'his' Greenland White-fronted Geese on the pools yesterday morning. Tony is the contact for the ringing programme (coordinated by National Parks and Wildlife Service in Ireland) for this bonny goose, so one sporting a distinctive orange collar will be something that he will know about. Although the bird remained just too distant to read the ring, Tony thought he could make out enough from the grainy image we sent to suggest that this was bird was ringed as a juvenile female on 3 December 2009 on the Wexford Slobs in southern Ireland (where National Parks and Wildlife Service in Ireland carry out most of the ringing of this species). If that is the case it seems that she has got lost from her family and has hence turned up here all by herself. With a total population of only around 23,300 (to put it in context, that's just a third of the highest Pink-footed Goose count on this reserve), this is a rare bird in global terms so any information and sightings can be important in helping us understand more about the species. Although small numbers used to be regular at the reserve, recent winters have tended to see just a handful of sightings and this is only about the third record this autumn, so it is all the more impressive that it turned out to be a ringed bird!
Hopefully we'll pick it out again one morning this week in the roosts so we can confirm the ring details, but please do let us know if you see it (or any other neck-collared geese).