The arrival of Waxwing has to be this week’s reserve highlight. Initially three birds were sighted in the hedgerow next to the Wildlife Watchpoint Hide early on the 18th, dropping to one individual by the afternoon. The single Waxwing showed exceptionally well in the same hedgerow for the rest of the week. Other birds taking advantage of the hedgerow berries included 20+ Fieldfare and 6 Redwing.
Hopefully the Waxwing will hang around for visitors to the reserve this weekend. Many Thanks to Ian F for the photograph.
The first signs of spring were spread across the reserve with snowdrops and crocuses flowering in the Wildlife Garden, Skylarks in song over the wet grassland and Blue Tits investigating some of the nest boxes. A Chiffchaff sighted along the edge of the Allotment Pool on the 16th was most likely an elusive individual which has overwintered on the reserve.
February’s Wetland Bird Survey was undertaken on the 16th,the return of grebes to a number of the water bodies was notable with 2x Great Crested Grebe and 3x Little Grebe. Other respectable counts included, 1400+ Wigeon, 236x Teal, 6x Goldeneye, 8x Red-Breasted Merganser, 180+ Coot and 850+ Lapwing.
The drake Green-Winged Teal prolonged its stay and although mobile through the middle part of the week could generally be observed from the Saltholme Pools Hide.
Ian F did well to capture the Green-Winged Teal (left bird) alongside a European Teal (right bird).
Other wildlife highlights from this period included, 2x Long-tailed Duck (Saltholme East), 1x Merlin, 3x Lesser Redpoll (daily, Phil Stead Hide), Brambling (19th, Visitor Centre feeders), Twite (Wilderness Trail), Weasel and Hares.
Finally, 2x Short-Eared Owl have been observed hunting over Cowpen Marsh and can be viewed from the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve Carpark (the same parking area used for the Seal Haul Out Hide).
The first obvious spring movements of the year were noted this week both on the reserve and along the east coast. Skylark migration in particular was a prominent feature with increasing numbers noted at Saltholme. If the mild conditions and southwesterly winds continue into next week then visitors should keep an eye open for skeins of Pink-Footed Geese heading north over the reserve and check the bird feeders for refuelling finches such as Siskin or Brambling.
Lookout for both displaying and migrating Skylark on the reserve over the next week. Many Thanks to Ian F for the photograph.