In my last sightings blog I mentioned autumn spectacles at Satholme and I’m going to begin this weeks by talking about another, Starling murmurations. Saltholme is currently running a series of Soup and Starling events in order to give visitors the opportunity to witness this great British natural wonder. An estimated 10,000 Starlings are currently roosting in the reedbeds on site. Given that this autumn’s reporting rate still hasn't peaked we should expect even more Starlings to arrive as the month progresses.
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I filmed this Saltholme Starling murmuration in October last year.
A good range of wintering passerine birds were recorded during the fortnight including, Grey Wagtail (Main Lake a favoured area), Stonechat (Haverton Gate), Redwing, Fieldfare, Treecreeper (Haverton cycleway), Lesser Redpoll (flew over carpark, 13th), Siskin (Haverton Cycleway), Tree Sparrow and Snow Bunting (2nd).
This autumns excellent Whooper Swan passage continued with birds seen at Saltholme on the following dates, 1st (4x ad & 2x Juv), 2nd (4x ad), 4th (10x), 5th (20x ad & 3x Juv) and 9th (12x). The first half of the fortnight also saw some good Pink-footed Goose movement with 63x (1st), 40+ (2nd) and c.100 (4th). A single Pink-footed Goose could also be found in amongst the resident goose flock (11th).
Family parties of Whooper Swan stick together during autumn migration (Thanks to Renton Charman for this photograph).
Recent analysis of mud cores taken from bottom tank (the wetland in front of the Phil Stead hide) yielded good numbers of chironomid (midge) larvae and shrimps. These invertebrates constitute an important part of a wading birds diet and our results perhaps support the reasoning for bottom tank being a popular destination for this group. The reserves wader records from the last fortnight include, 1000+ Golden Plover (2nd), 25x Dunlin, 1x Little Stint (13th), 10x Redshank (4th), 8x Black-tailed Godwit (1st), 1x Bar-tailed Godwit (1st), 150+ Curlew (7th), 20+ Snipe (1st) and Ruff.
Bottom tank is a popular feeding destination for waders like this Black-tailed Godwit (Thanks to Renton Charman for the photograph).
A Roe Deer sighted from the Saltholme Pools Hide was going to take the accolade for best mammal sighting for the past fortnight, however this was well and truly trumped by news that at least one mole has taken up residence on Back Saltholme Island! The estate team were out weeding the island when they discovered the molehills and the many juicy worms that this adventurous little critter is now feasting on.
Finally, the most unusual sighting of the week goes to a flyover flock of five Spoonbills (5th). Although this species is known to winter in the south of England a sighting in the north east at this time of year is very noteworthy.