I don’t really know where to start this week, so much has happened and everyone is excited and smiling. Yesterday we were delighted to hear that the first of our Nene eggs have hatched. BHT and BAT, recognisable by their large leg rings, are the proud parents and are nesting at the back of the North America pen with their two goslings so keep your eyes peeled for them next time you visit! Two more pairs of Nene are still incubating and the Coscoroba Swans I mentioned last week are now sat on five eggs. These swans have never bred successfully at Arundel. They did lose one egg last week when it rolled out of the nest, it looks like it may have been pecked by a Jackdaw or some other corvid species but maybe 2011 will be their lucky year!
We were trying to get a photo of the newborns but Mum was keeping them tightly under wraps! I’ll try to get a picture for my diary next week but if you get one and would like to email it to me I’d be very grateful! firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday I was duty manager and it was a wonderful evening to be doing the ‘walkround’ at the end of the day. I always take longer than everyone else as I like to stop and talk to all the birds, but yesterday I think I took about an hour! I started off at World Wetlands, feeding the collection birds with the bag of grain I pinch from admissions on my way out to the grounds. I love feeding the Maned Geese (also known as Australian Wood Ducks), they are so feisty and the first to come up along with the singleton Nenes. The Swan Geese and Chiloe Wigeon are also favourites but I love them all really. Until recently I was too scared to feed the Magpie Geese which is ridiculous. They are actually very sweet with the exception of Basil, the largest male who still scares me when he chases me!
So I carried on my travels eventually after Suzie caught me cooing over the birds and stopped briefly to say hello to the Marbled Teal on the Iraqi pen. Have you seen the Garganey males recently? They are looking amazing, such incredible plumage. Incidentally, these birds will be moving onto North America on Friday as the exhibit is having a makeover. They will move back in September once the planting has established and the breeding season is over.
By this time I was already running late so I marched past the Woodland Lodge Hide and Treecreepers play pod before heading along the reed bed boardwalk. I checked Wetlands Secrets for Moorhens (they creep in and knock everything over) and popped into the Scrape Hide where I sat for a few minutes watching about 40 Teal dabbling in front of the Lost Reedbed area. No time to lose, I was off again, the Trumpeters honked as I went past, they were mating last week too so will soon be nest building on the island again. Next stop, the Sand martin Hide before heading off up the Tranquil Trail to the Ramsar Hide where I sat for a while enjoying the evening sun. A long-tailed Tit was gathering cobwebs off the outside of the hide to take back and line it’s nest. Such busy little birds, they never fail to bring a smile to my face. Suddenly I was aware of movement right in front of me and a small, tawny striped wader appeared at the water’s edge, picking it’s way along rooting in the mud. A Jack Snipe! So exciting! I didn’t realise how small and delicate they were as I’ve only seen them through scopes and binoculors. I must have sat there for about 20 minutes, rooted to the spot, feeling so lucky to see this special bird close up. Lapwing also started to display against the pink evening sunset, absolute bliss.
Lapwing in Flight by Paul Stevens
Then I tore myself away and raced to the Lapwing Hide as I was running late for my circuit training class!
Working at WWT you’re constantly surrounded by people saying ‘did you see the…?’ and we’re working on sharing these sightings with our visitors. Always ask at admissions for latest news as there’s bound to be some interesting snippet of information.
Male Reed Bunting by Paul Stevens
Back in the office today I was a little upset to hear that my ‘pet’ Water Rail, Walter, will probably leave for Eastern Europe in April. I’d just assumed that the Water Rails stay to breed but apparently those that over winter here tend to migrate during the Spring. I do hope he’ll come back to my bird table in the Autumn again, the standard of fare is highly rated!
Female Reed Bunting by Paul Stevens
Finally, Paul captured some cracking shots of the pair of Reed Buntings on my bird table. The male still needs to colour up a little as his head is a little patchy but the female is beautiful with her distinctive eye stripes.
Have to dash as it’s 6pm and my tea is calling.
Speak soon, Liv