Another top weekend despite the freeze thaw effect that seems to be part of the course at the moment, however it does not seem to be effecting the excellent wealth of wildlife that has been on show.
It was also good to meet everyone at the weekend in reception and chat to you all and really nice to see the young-uns visiting too who seemed to have a whale of a good time. I do like a bit of dry Yorkshire humour and leg pulling and told one of the young girls (about 6 or 7) who was visiting that if she dropped the hire binoculars out of the hide window I'd have to hold her by her legs upside down and out of the hide window so she could reach them, - after a few seconds a little smile came to her face as she realized just what I had proposed!
Another advantage of nice weekends were these top marsh harrier photo's kindly sent to me by Dave and Jo Dimmock who I chatted to on Sunday (they also had great views of the hen harrier) Thanks for sharing them!
It was lovely weather too on Sunday that helped the day go quickly and was topped off for me with a last half hour birding up in Ousefleet hide that gave me some lovely numbers of waders feeding on the now defrosted pool. Sometimes it help to know when hides are at their best and Ousefleet often seems to get better as the day goes on with it really at its best just as the beautiful red Marshland sunset goes down.
A perfect Marshland sunset
This helped me towards some nice wader counts with over 50 curlew, 14 black tailed godwits, 47 dunlin, 30 lapwing and 4 redshank. On Saturday there was also a ruff and a few golden plover over while the snipe continued to oblige visitors with some F.A.B views in front of the hides. What I also really liked about Ousefleet on Sunday were the little party of about 30 pink footed geese who were feeding out on the grassland area, we've been trying to get a few pinkies to feed on this part of the reserve for ages so it was great to see them undisturbed and feeding right until the last rays of sunshine disappeared.
Curlew out on a frozen Ousefleet on Friday morning
I also enjoyed this carrion crow that was 'gnawing' on this black headed gull wing, you could even hear the ripping as it tore of what little flesh there was.
A nice selection of wildfowl was spearheaded by the three goldeneye, with a supporting cast of teal, wigeon, shoveler, gadwall, shelduck and over 900 flyover pinkfeet. Also some nice views of water rail near to reception hide although he didn't quite pose for the camera.
The birds of prey again were on top form with hen harrier and the amazing marsh harriers showing plus up to 2 merlins, 2 buzzards, sparrowhawk and this lovely kestrel.
And not to be outdone the smaller birds were on good form with kingfisher, stonechat, cettis warbler, a good flock of roosting fieldfare, goldcrest, the first long tailed tits for ages, plus a few bearded tits, skylarks, meadow pipits returning from the south and lots of singing from the local dunnocks, robins, song thrush, and wrens.
female Bearded tit - photo taken at Townend hide
Meadow pipit along the path to Ousefleet
Our little furry friends have been on top form with the hare's showing well and starting to chase each other around, there has also been regular roe deer, fox and weasel on site, I was also shown a great photo of a lovely wood mouse that was next to one of the hides.
This hare was feeding in front of Ousefleet hide along with all the waders.
And a shot from the other day of a roe deer and stonechat - the stonechat was following the deer around, a good little record shot of a relationship between two species that we rarely if ever see. Who needs domestic livestock?!
And finally another 'behavioral' shot of red legged partridge - not a great photo (must stop giving the lens too much vindran-whally) but nice because it shows the frost around the birds but also on their backs. This was another on 'my way to work shots'.