Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Wildlife on the doorstep......well, kerbside.

Overnight rain turned to clear skies and sub zero temperatures by dawn. A cold NNW wind with sunshine pretty much all day.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
My car was covered in a sheet of ice, I thought the ponds would be iced over too, but the rain must have continued long enough and the ponds were completely ice free (MD).
Just the two main ponds checked:
Mute Swan 5 adult 9 juvenile 
Moorhen 7
Coot 1 - I like this clip, the Coot seems so pleased with its chunk of weed. It evades one group of Gadwall, just to have most of its meal pinched by another. An occupational hazard I suppose if you share a pond with 42 dabbling ducks.

Little grebe 1
Gadwall 40 ( all on the "no swimming" pond)
Tufted Duck 4 males
Shoveler 2 (pair) - I don't know if these are the same male and female that were present last week, but today's birds were definitely together.

Heliport wader roost
Howard managed to read more colour coded Knot rings at high water including this bird - you will need to open the images to see the ring detail.
You can see how the lower outside edge of the orange flag is being worn away by
the rough terrain it often walks through - I have the same problem with my wellies!
This is one of Howard's pictures of the same bird, but taken two years ago.
You can see that the wear had started but not as pronounced as today's shot.

It's nice to see that the Norwegian ringed Oystercatcher is still with us.
It will be a third calendar year (3CY) bird now.

South shore
I was intrigued by Shaun's report yesterday of the Potts corner Brent stopping to feed between the cafe and Ocean Edge saltmarsh, so I timed my walk to coincide with any repeat performance (MD).
Pale-bellied Brent goose 31 - I walked along the shore towards Potts from the saltmarsh on the ebbing tide. No sign of any Brent until I was close enough to see the cafe. The tide was quite a way out by that time, but the Brent were feeding close in on gut weed covered rocks. Unfortunately, it couldn't last for long, as this section of beach gets quite busy as it becomes exposed, as this clip will demonstrate. These birds are well south of the recording area, but soon all 31 will be well within it.
They brazened out the car passing twice, but by 13:45 something else spooked them and they set off north. They shaped to land after about 300m, where there are more gut weed covered stones, but they must have been later in the tide than yesterday, and when they realised that the Red Nab rocks were exposed they continued on and landed there instead. It seemed strange sitting on a rock outside the recording area, watching birds fly into it! It took them almost two minutes to reach Red Nab, this is just the first 500m
They were still feeding on Red Nab when I got back at 14:45 (I'm a bit slower than the Brent!). The tide had already left the rocks then, but there is much less disturbance here than out from the children's play area. But the gut weed is generally cropped much shorter by the Wigeon.

The following records are all on, around or just out from the saltmarsh.
Wigeon 150+ (Out from saltmarsh when tide was still quite high)
Common Snipe 3 (returning to saltmarsh after tide had left it)
Rock Pipit 3
Reed Bunting 5 - this is the first occasion this winter when I have seen more than one here.
Reed Bunting 

Waders just out from the saltmarsh, these high spring tides leave this flat area of mud very quickly, leaving invertebrates stranded, the waders feed quickly - these are Knot and a few Dunlin, not much to see apart from the feeding pattern.
Knot 35
Dunlin 20
Ringed Plover 14
Turnstone 2
Redshank 30+

Finally, this is what today's title refers to. The following clip was looking west from Imperial Rd (the road leading to the "Waste Technology Park" just off Heysham bypass (the 50mph section)). It represents the eastern boundary of the recording area. These two Roe deer were no more than 50m from the bypass, you can hear the traffic.

My first thought was that it was a Roebuck following a doe, but checking the video I realised that they were both bucks.
This is the first one, you can see its proto-antlers forming.
Roebuck with its velvet covered antlers just beginning to form

The antler development of the above buck is typical for so early in the year. The buck behind it, in contrast, has remarkably well developed antlers for so early. They are shed every year of course, but presumably the second buck is more mature and its antlers destined to be impressive. Only four prongs so far, but surely going to be a six pointer.
Roebuck with very developed antlers for so early in the year.
They will continue to grow until the velvet sheds late March to April

So, it would seem that the second male wasn't so much following as "seeing off"!