Today’s routine Monday chores ended on a grisly note this afternoon after the discovery of several severed heads in a hidden lair in the gorse bushes by the marsh....
Ok, maybe not as bad as it sounds but still very interesting. Staff and volunteers were trying to find the den of a pair of foxes which have been seen regularly from Tower Pool Hide. They’re living a little too close to where waders will be breeding in the spring so we need to find them and get them to move on to a different location. We think from all of the body parts lying around we’ve found the approximate area, so the next step is a dusk stakeout to pinpoint their exact location.
On the way back from our expedition we came across a rather sad looking Whooper Swan in a field just off the reserve. Vicky managed to catch it and cuddle it before taking it off to a wildlife hospital (the RSPB do not treat with sick and injured birds). Whilst trying to capture the injured swan several small birds were flushed up from the stubble fields... could one of these have been the elusive Meadow Pipit which is still evading our year list?
In bird news visitors reported a single Siskin on the feeders in the reserve garden and a Merlin perched by the entrance track. Shelduck continue to be a regular sight along with several barnacle geese. Also seen offshore at the North end of the reserve were 8 Goosanders and 43 Eiders.
The team also welcome our new residential volunteer Nick to the reserve. Nick should be staying with us for about a month... that is if all the body parts haven’t scared him off!
Today saw the happy event of the reserve’s 100th bird for the annual report.
The fortunate birds in question were a group of 3 little grebes seen earlier today from tower pool hide.
Also today: The results from the big garden birdwatch done around the reserve garden.
Tree Sparrow 63
Great Tit 4
Blue Tit 4
A peregrine was also seen flying over, but due to the rules of the Garden Birdwatch we couldn’t count it!
The Canada Goose which has been seen around the reserve recently was seen again this morning taking off with its regular companions the Whooper Swans.
With the weather slightly warmer (and unfortunately wetter) and a general lack of rare birds, reserve staff and volunteers have been getting back into regular work routine and it’s all been about trees this week.
We are nearing the final stages of a new woodland path behind the reserve office / farmhouse so have been busy transporting logs for path edging material as well as shovelling wood-chips to make the surface.
Other tasks this week have involved repairing and repainting Tree Sparrow nest boxes ready for the 2011 breeding season. We have also been planting a 250m mixed hedgerow… 50m completed today.
Staff and vols also had chance to sweep the plantation for birds which turned up 5-7 Goldcrests, 1 Treecreeper, 4 Great tits, 2 Blue tits, 1 Robin, 1 wren, and a Mistle thrush, a generally average selection for the time of year.
Birds of note currently on the reserve include 5+ Barnacle geese, 7 Pintail, 8 Shelduck (6 at the Lagoon, 2 on the Pools) Red Breasted Mergansers, Goosanders and the Smew is still around.
Birds of prey; Buzzards (three were circling over the visitor centre today) Kestrel (often hunting the rough ground to the right of visitor centre), Peregrine (occasionally blasts past in front of visitor centre) Merlin, no sign of the male Hen Harrier recently, although it could easily be missed considering the vast range of suitable hunting ground on the reserve.
Garden guests include male and female Great spotted woodpecker, 60+ Tree Sparrows, as well as numerous Greenfinch, Great tits, Blue tits, Chaffinch, Robin and Blackbird.
One of our 60+ Tree Sparrows...
It’s about time we had something a little more rare turn up... or even a Meadow Pipit would be nice.
The year list still stands at 99 (we might have to start offering prizes soon... photo evidence needed).
A very picture based post today, why not pop in and get some great photos yourself (don’t forget to post them up on the Strathbeg gallery page)
Firstly the 'redhead’ Smew has been giving excellent views from Fen Hide.
Sparrowhawk perched on the reserve car park wall. A regular around the reserve garden.
Male Hen Harrier hunting low over the reeds… with distant Pink-footed geese. (from Fen Hide)
Finally Mute Swans in courtship dance… an early sign of spring. (from Fen Hide)
Visitors will also be glad to know that the toilets are now fully fixed and working again (sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused).
....Skylark on Tuesday. Yes, we waited 18 days into the new year for this common farmland bird. Incredible. Even more suprising is, we have still not had Meadow pipit.
So, it's been a few days since we last posted. Apologies about that. I expect David (can't remember his surname) is tut tutting in frustration. We are a bit short of staff this week and I have been stuck in the office most of today, so bird highlights have been few and far between. Yesterday, we did a farmland bird survey, very disappointing results. In fact, I can' t bear to talk about it, lets just say, we didn't get into double figures! However, later that day, we did have nice views of a male Hen Harrier hunting over the marsh which was very nice.
Today, it has just been me here, everyone else away for various reasons. I have been taking short breaks from the computer and enjoying the garden birds, especially the Strathbeg Tree sparrrow flock, which recently peaked at 82. A pair of Collared doves also popped in for a while. Very common, but always good to see.
Talking of garden birds, you will be aware that it is Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend 29th/30th January. For those that aren't in the know, you'll find out all about it here. http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ Why not spend an hour just enjoying the birds in your own garden.
Here at Strathbeg, this weekend, Saturday 22nd, we are running a BGBW event. Our local Fraserburgh Wiildlife Explorers groups will be organising all the birdwatching fun. The event is free, starts at 11am and there are more details on the Loch of Strathbeg website page http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lochofstrathbeg/index.aspx