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10 Mar 2017

Black is in

Firstly, our apologies.  Our Reserve Team have been off site for a few days this week so we’ve been unable to get sightings news out in our usual way.  The six Bewick’s Swans are still here, the family of five plus our lost cygnet we’ve named Slightly, after a character from the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.  The adults in the family are named Aye-aye and Ayeman, who have three cygnets of their own with them.  They’re often in the Tundra Pen in the grounds and can be quite approachable.

Just as I was typing a Black Swan landed on the Big Pen outside the Visitor Centre, arriving with two Mute Swans.  The bird is unringed but very used to being fed.

South Lake Hides

A summer plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull was a nice find amongst the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, which along with the 17 Avocets are turning the South Lake rather black and white.  Providing a splash of colour are the 54 Shoveler, handful of Teal and Shelduck and a few Lapwing, some of which are displaying.  The Black-tailed Godwit flock numbered 219 and a single Redshank was with them.
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Holden Tower and Tack Piece

The White-fronted Geese were at the southern end of the Dumbles this morning, feeding along the fenceline; at least 150 were present.  Two Avocet were prospecting on the island on the scrape, 8 male Lapwing were displaying across the saltmarsh and at least 2 male Skylark were in full song here too.  The Tack Piece was rather quiet as more of our wintering birds continue to head back to their breeding grounds.  Around 160 Wigeon can still be seen here along with a few Teal and Shoveler.  A small party of 16 Curlew were feeding along the edge of the scrape and 5 Cranes were present, with another 2 birds in the Rushy at the same time.
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Willow Hide

Two Water Rails were seen here this morning.  The feeders continue to be busy with House Sparrow, Chaffinch and other expected birds.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker is making regular visits to the peanuts and a few Teal can often be seen drifting in along the floodwater to pick up any spilt food.
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Zeiss Hide

A total of 26 Avocet were present this morning on the scrape, mainly feeding although one pair did spent much of their time chasing off a pair of Herring Gulls.  A Cetti’s Warbler was in full song in the reedbed and a Little Grebe was swimming down the channel.  Feeding across the field were 5 Ruff, 30 Lapwing, at least 4 Snipe, 200+ Wigeon and around 40 Dunlin.  A small flock of 40 Black-tailed Godwits dropped in briefly before heading back to the South Lake.
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Kingfisher Hide

A Kingfisher caught a fish on the pond were a Little Grebe was also hunting.  A Little Egret was sat in the willow trees around the Bottom New Piece and a Roe Deer was browsing on the fresh spring tree growth along the edge of the rhine.
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  • Alan McIlquham

    Are there many black swans breeding in the UK now ? I know they do in Dawlish and are of New Zealand origin. How long would it be before we could say that they can be included on the UK list ?

    • WWT

      Hi Alan, according to the recently published ‘non-native breeding species report’, the number of breeding pairs is low and estimated to be in double figures only. Numbers are increasing though – and it may well become self sustaining (the criterion for category C of UK list) if the current trend continues. BOU (British Ornithologists’ Union) would decide on when that was the case. NB. The black swan is actually an Australian species – so it is also non-native (but well established) in NZ.

      • Alan McIlquham

        Thankyou for taking the care to reply