The field teaching team have been busy visiting schools taking part in the Big School's Bird Watch (BSBW) this week and meeting many ethusiastic young bird watchers. Making simple bird feeders, encouraging birds into school grounds and playing games to identify garden birds has been great fun for everyone concerned! Our memorable story "Quest for a nest", about Mr. and Mrs. Blackbird's search for home, rounds off the activities.
Watch out for Meridian TV's visit to St.Mary's school where many entusiastic and knowledgable young bird watchers have decorated their classrooms beautifully for the BSBW and have made lots of yummy bird treats.
Water levels have dropped back to something like our normal winter levels after last week's flood, revealing lots of grassland again. About 100 black-tailed godwits, 55 golden plover and a few ruff and dunlin have made use of it yesterday and today, along with thousands of ducks (mostly wigeon, teal, shoveler and pintail), lapwing and geese (mostly Canadas). A stunning male hen harrier has been daily for most of the last week, often hunting very close to Nettley's hide and Jupp's view and a pair of peregrines were casuing a lot of disturbance over the south brooks this morning. A raven flew and croaked it way south over west mead hide around midday. The field in front of the visitor centre has had around 30 each of fieldfare and redwing on it all day.
'Our' female peregrine was perched up at her favourite spot near Hanger View this morning, but as I approached Little Hanger Hide, the brooks erupted and lapwings, godwits, and hundreds, even thousands, of ducks took to the air. Chaos ruled for the next 5 minutes as our peregrine raced around in pursuit of her breakfast. Despite several attempts she failed to catch anything and returned with empty talons to her perch.
Also seen this morning, on a post in the field in front of the centre, a female merlin. The male hen harrier has still been hunting around the reserve and even I have now managed to see it! Also around the trail this morning were at least 8 bullfinch, half a dozen green woodpecker, plenty of fieldfare and a kestrel.
Hot off the press! Our new events programme has just arrived which covers all of our events until July. We're continuing with our regular Thursday morning wildlife walkabouts, we've got courses for you if you're new to birdwatching, and later in the year, dawn chorus walks and our annual nightingale festival. Pop along to the centre and pick one up.
Having spent all day in the centre yesterday trying not to begrudge all the visitors who had 'too close even for binoculars' views of the male hen harrier, I had an early morning walk before we opened today to try my luck.....Well I didn't see the hen harrier but I was compensated by lovely views of the barn owl hunting along the river bank. Plenty of the usual but splendid ducks were joined by around 40 white-fronted geese, visible through the 'big bins' in the centre or from West Mead hide. Amongst the numerous lapwings gathered on the small islands of dry land out on the brooks are a few dunlin. Maybe I'll find the hen harrier next time around ......
Ducks, glorious ducks! As you may have seen from Pete's post earlier today, the reserve is a little wet at the moment to say the least. But with the increased water levels comes the spectacle of hundreds of waterfowl across the brooks.
So this Sunday, wrap up warm and head down to Jupp's View where our friendly volunteers will be waiting to show you an amazing array of ducks geese and swans as they dabble, dive and feed across the brooks on this winters day.
Come and keep our volunteers company, you can drop in anytime between 11 am - 3 pm, there is no charge, only the nature trail entry fee if your not yet a member of the RSPB.