Tuesday 30 November 2021

Emboldened Brent

A fresh warm(ish) west wind, overcast all day but only the occasional light shower.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Just a quick early check of the main ponds to check the gulls for rings, before the ice melted......to late, all the ice had already completely gone,
Mute 2 adult 9 cygnet 
Mallard 9
Gadwall 34 (30 back on "no swimming" pond)
Moorhen 5

North shore
Pete and Jean had a look from Knowlys Rd in the morning's ebbing tide.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 30 - none with colour rings
Shag 1 juvenile 
Eider 167
Pintail 1 out
Single figures Great Crested grebe and Red-breasted Merganser 

I had a check at low water in the afternoon (MD)
Didn't see anything on the sea, not covered above. 
Waders were mainly Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank with a few Turnstone but no Knot.
Pale-bellied Brent goose now 33, but it wasn't obvious what was going on. As I was walking out they were all in the skear corner, but looking agitated. Then, without being spooked they flew towards the children's play area, this group of 12 first then the others in smaller groups.
The above clip was 13:45, it was 14:40 by the time I was heading back. Still no Brent in the corner, so I scanned the rocks around the children's play area, the Brent were feeding just out from the promenade on the north side of the play area. This despite dog walkers regularly passing by. As I walked a bit closer three different dog walkers passed. The geese stopped feeding but stayed where they were. This clip is really is just to show the location, n.b. I don't think many of these would have been visible from Knowlys Rd, as they were so close in,  but great views from the promenade.
This is the point when they were finally spooked, I saw another dog walker approaching but didn't see exactly what tipped the balance this time, presumably the dog came too close. They all flew back to the skear corner.
By this time it was 15:05, so they had been feeding here for an hour and 20 minutes. At least it gave me an opportunity to have a close look at the feeding area.
This is the lowest point on the land side and lots of ground water seeps out onto the rocks. When I checked this area at the end of autumn there was very little gut weed here, now it was quite lush and lots floating in small pools. Obviously the lack of ground water in late summer had resulted in a dearth of weed, but it is good to see it can still grow in winter conditions.
This is the gut weed growing where the Brent were feeding.

That said, it is a bit of a worry that the Brent are having to feed so close in, so early in the winter, I called them emboldened in the title, I hope it is just that and not just hungry! As I walked away I saw all 33 birds returning to the same feeding area. It has to be a good viewing opportunity here from the promenade, my advise would be to choose a wet weekday when dog walking will be at a minimum.