During my final week as a Mid Wales Conservation Intern it was the large high tides that produced excellent wildlife watching. An early start in the Breakwater Hide on the 20th produced good wader numbers on the Breakwater field including, 105+ Dunlin, 100+ Redshank, 16x Bar-tailed Godwit, 100+ Curlew, whilst a scan of the estuary produced 3x Goldeneye, 17x Red-breasted Merganser and 3x Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile at the other end of the reserve visitors reported excellent views of 24x Greenland White-Fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose near the Saltings Hide as well as another 9x Bar-tailed Godwit.
The large tides inundated the saltmarsh as can be seen from this photo looking towards the Domen Las Hide.
Bird song has built up to dawn chorus level with the musical notes of Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit and Chaffinch filling the air on a daily basis. Drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker’s can also be regularly heard from the Visitor Centre.
The Robins delightful song fills the early morning air.
Other interesting sightings on the reserve this week included, 1x Gadwall (Visitor Centre Pools, 20th), 2x Little Grebe (Visitor Centre Pools, regular) and 1x Hen Harrier (female, Domen Las Hide, regular).
Look out for ear fungus on elder trees whilst walking the Green Trail.
Finally, I’d like to wish all Ynys-hir blog readers and visitors a fruitful and wildlife packed year.
Of the five British owl species, the Barn Owl is one of the most nocturnal in habit, therefore a day flying Barn Owl observed hunting over Covert Coch (10th) was a real treat and a personal highlight for me on the reserve this week. Another sign of Barn Owl presence on the reserve are their pellets, which consist of the indigestible parts of meals. Pellets are frequently left in a number of the reserve’s hides and if you are lucky, whole rodent skulls can sometimes be found within one.
A blanket of cloud rolled over the hills during the week.
A temperature rise resulted in the return of wetland birds to the reserve’s freshwater pools, this was particularly apparent on the Breakwater field where good numbers of wildfowl were present on the 14th including, 330+ Wigeon, 107+ Teal, 6x Shoveler and 9x Shelduck.
The resident Little Egrets continue to show well, including this individual photographed by Keith Roberts from the Domen Las Hide.
Increasing day length has prompted a range of bird species to become more vocal including the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, taking time to learn the call and drumming sound could greatly increase your chances of connecting with this miniature woodpecker on the reserve. Another species which can be heard frequently is the Red Kite as birds begin to show signs of display with the upcoming breeding season getting ever closer.
Twenty eight Greenland White-fronted Geese and 1x Bean Goose continued to show regularly just off the reserve. The birds are viewable from a public footpath running parallel to the Afon Clettwr.
Other interesting sightings included, 320+ Dunlin (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 2x Red-breasted Merganser (Breakwater Hide, 9th), 1x Hen Harrier (female, saltmarsh, daily), 1x Peregrine Falcon (Domen Las Hide, 14th) and 1x Otter (Breakwater Hide, 10th).
I managed to take this record photo of the Hen Harrier as it flew in front of the Breakwater Hide on the 14th.
Finally, the reserve will experience some large high tides at the back end of next week, peaking at 5.9m on Saturday 21st (09:57am). A seat in one of the hides overlooking the estuary should guarantee some great wildlife watching two hours either side of high tide.
Temperatures plummeted as high pressure took charge this week, this led to all of the reserve’s waterbodies freezing over and the wetland birds moving to the estuary in search of open water. The highlight on the main reserve was a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull which roamed the saltmarsh between the Breakwater and Domen Las Hides in search of food.
This Glaucous Gull spent the week searching for food along the estuary (Many Thanks to Tom Kistruck for the photo).
The single Bean Goose and 25 Greenland White-fronted Geese took to grazing just off the reserve where they could be viewed from a public footpath that runs parallel to the Afon Clettwr. The Afon Clettwr also playing host to 2x Water Pipit and 6+ Rock Pipit.
Here are a couple of record photos of the Bean Goose which is the right hand bird in the first photo and central in the second.
It was another great week for raptors on the reserve with the wintering female Hen Harrier spotted from the Domen Las Hide (6th and 8th). A male Sparrowhawk flew past the Ynys Feurig Hide with Starling prey (7th). Kestrel could be seen daily foraging near the Ynys Feurig Hide.
This wing-tagged Red Kite from Wales showed well from the Domen Las Hide during the week.
Other interesting sightings included, 9x Greylag Geese (flew past Marian Mawr Hide, 7th), 2x Goosander (Domen Las Hide, regular), 1x Great Crested Grebe (Breakwater Hide, 4th), 17x Grey Plover (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 2x Knot (Breakwater Hide, 8th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Domen Las Hide, daily) and 11x Snipe (Ynys Feurig Hide, 8th).
Many thanks to Kieth Roberts who did well to capture this otter on camera from the Domen Las Hide.