This week has indeed been one of 'white delights' and one that is not likely to be forgotten for a while!
Firstly, the stunning male smew continued to stick around, with his striking white bad black plumage. We've seem him most days this week (including today) and he has continued to 'hang around' with the goldeneyes and display to them. This is a duck worth seeing and it may well stay around for a bit longer than our next white delight...
Yesterday, 11th March, whilst being driven through Johnstone, I got a phone call from Zul (the reserve manager) telling me that we'd just had a WHITE TAILED EAGLE on the reserve! I think my exact words were "What! You are kidding!" before we quickly turned the car around and darted along the A737 to attempt to catch a glimpse. Zul informed us that it had been hunting over the Aird Meadow and spotted by several of our visitors. It had two yellow wing tags, which suggested it was one of the birds released in Fife last year. We carried on driving and suddenly saw this humongous bird flying above us along the roadside, by the village of Howwood. It was being mobbed by crows which, in comparison to the eagle, looked like sparrows. What a magnificent bird and an amazing thing to see in Renfrewshire. There had been several reports of a tagged bird in Millport, which is not that far away when you're as big as a sea eagle, so we suspect it is the same young bird. This bird was a first for the reserve (which is the second first in two weeks, after the Taiga bean goose last week) and we hope not the last!
Finally, although most people probably weren't delighted to see the west of Scotland turned into a winter wonderland once again, we had another flurry of snow, which settled and turned the reserve into just that. White all over again, but not quite as cold as before at least! It was nice to see the snowdrops sticking out of the snow, giving that last push of the year before the daffodils and bluebells take over.
yesterday, a stunning looking male smew was once again on the Aird Meadow. One of our regular visitors, and local group members, heard about the bird and sent me a little update about what she saw:
"One of my all time favourite birds, so I was straight down to the Reserve after work! Not too well prepared - binoculars and a set of tripod legs (no scope!!) in the car. Headed round to the Wilson Hide and stayed for around 50 minutes - I came away at 6.20pm when the light was almost gone and I was nearly frozen! Lovely sightings of the bird - initially in the company of a pair of Goldeneye, then it became part of a small 'gang' of G/eyes! It was amusing to watch the Smew 'mimic' the male G/eyes as it raised out of the water and threw its head back like the other males!- clearly trying to pick up a bird?!! Wonder if it's the same bird that was around last year?"
It's still here today so come along and see it if you have a chance!
We've also just had a sighting of a bean goose in amongst a large flock of greylag geese. This is a first for the reserve and has been checked out by some of our resident bird experts. I'll hopefully be able to get some photos on here soon!
Other highlights this week have included our first warbler sighting/sounding. A chiffchaff was heard singing very briefly along the Aird Meadow trail on Tuesday (1st), probably an overwintering bird rather than a returning migrant as chiffchaffs and blackcaps do overwinter in Scotland (and the UK) so it may just be claiming it's territory early before the others arrive. We'll be keeping our eyes open over the next few weeks for sand martins and shortly after that, the others should follow.
We have had good numbers of male reed buntings at the feeding station, up to 5 at a time, which is quite unusual. They are all in their breeding plumage and looking very dapper too!
There have been quite a few large flocks of greylag and Canada geese passing over head, stopping on the Aird Meadow and in the field across the road, and landing on the Barr Loch. Up to 233 greylags and 50 Canadas.
Lapwings have been roosting on the Aird Meadow, taking advantage of the pools that had built up during the wet weather. Up to 20 along with teal, mallards and a grey heron.
We've continued to have brambling at the feeders, up to 4 at the moment along with large numbers of chaffinches. We've also had redpolls (including another possible mealy redpoll as opposed to the normal lesser redpolls), siskins, goldfinches, bullfinches, curlew, oystercatchers, tufted ducks (up to 124 this week), 16 whooper swans, long tailed tits, lots of sightings of a great spotted woodpecker and plenty of the normal stuff too!
A top week so far!