Thursday 31 December 2020

Wildfowl teamwork far.

A hard frost again last night and the morning started with freezing rain, leaving a covering of ice over everything. The sun broke through by the afternoon, but the air temperature never got any higher than 2C. By 15:00 a mist came in off the sea. Very light N - NE breezes.

Middleton Nature Reserve - in the early afternoon sun
Main Pond:
Mute swan - Just the 2 adult and 3+1 juvenile are keeping a small patch ice free. 2 Moorhen have stayed with them.
When times are hard, local disputes are forgotten and the estranged juvenile was allowed to help to keep the hole ice free. 

No Swimming pond:
Despite the continued overnight freezing, the area of free water had increased slightly, as had the number of wildfowl.
Gadwall 29
Shoveler 6 (2 female)
Mallard 6
Coot 6 (I think joined by the 2 main pond birds)
Moorhen 2
Little Grebe 2
There was lots of activity (apart from the sleeping Shoveler). I expect the food supply is becoming scarce. Fortunately the activity, including diving and regularly climbing out onto the ice, is what is allowing this area to be maintained ice free.
Most of the above are on this clip.

The warm sunshine tempted quite a few of the Gadwall and Mallard onto the ice.
I like the Mallard moonwalking

Apart from cold feet, one of these Coot appears to be getting a cold shoulder too!

Tim Butler pond:
Completely frozen, no wildfowl seen or heard, although the horse field to the east wasn't checked.

Fence Pond:
There is a patch of open water below the large willow in the NW corner.
Teal 5

The only other record was 1 Water Rail squealing from the western scrape.

Siskin 3 or 4 feeding in the trees along Moneyclose Lane near the tall anemometer. Ref Kevin.

Well, the Siskins made it in as the last record for 2020. A year that most, if not all of us, will be glad to see the back of! 
2021 is going to start even tougher, but at least we can now see some light of what seemed to be an endless tunnel. So stay safe and lets hope we have a 

Happy New Year


Finally, an end of the year puzzle, and one that I don't yet know the answer to.
This is the superstructure above No.2 outflow. I have never seen it used by any sea bird, and I have checked at all times of the tide, all weather conditions and at all times of year, for over 20 years. Waders, gulls, terns and cormorant routinely rest on the rails along the outflow, which seems to rule out any theory relating to them not liking any odour from the outflow. But not once have I seen any sea bird on any part of the superstructure, other than the odd wader on the very lowest cross struts. I've absolutely no idea why. It must be something fundamental that I don't understand. I can't even recall, seeing  a feral pigeon here.

If anyone, has any thoughts on this, or records contrary to mine, I would be very interested. My contact details are on the side bar. Hopefully by new years eve 2021, I will post, at least a possible, explanation.