Signup to receive emails

Get the latest WWT news delivered direct to your inbox...

18 Dec 2017

Bullfinches, kingfishers & snipe showing in the cold

kingfisher on Dec 16 photographed by Alec Pelling.

I’m sitting in our staff tea room watching the bird feeders while compiling my wildlife sightings list. Lots of blue and great tits, a few long-tailed tits and a goldfinch visit the feeder stuffed with sunflower hearts while a chaffinch hovers up any spillage from the ground below. A reed bunting suddenly appears on the feeder – funny because I hadn’t spotted any during my walk this morning and was wondering where they had gotten to.

Reed buntings have been roosting in the reedbed along with flocks of pied wagtails. I counted over 70 pied wags come in while I was watching the marsh harriers (five) come in to roost on Sunday night. Then a sparrowhawk began hunting the pied wagtails.It was the first time I have seen a sparrowhawk hover! He hung above the spot where a large number of wagtails were hiding, then dropped into the reeds to try to snatch one. He did this four times – intriguing to watch!

We seem to have a barn owl using the Scrape hide. The clues are there – pellets on the floor, whitewash against the wall. The hide must be a rest stop for the owl for a break and  a preen while hunting the reserve at night.

While I didn’t see reed buntings on my walk I saw kingfishers at several points all around the reserve. While looking out on Arun Riverlife through the large gallery windows a kingfishers was perched in the large willow to the right. I the saw a kingfisher at the boat safari, at the Ramsar hide, at the Scrape hide and at the World Wetlands area. With many areas icing up in the cold weather the kingfishers are utilizing ditches and areas with moving water that doesn’t freeze over . The frozen ponds and scrapes have diminished the duck numbers except for the  70-100 teal which stayed onsite finding open water to the right of the Sand Martin hide.  Tufted ducks and pochard moved over to the channels of Wetland Discovery when Arun Riverlife froze over and have remained.

Also showing well in the cold weather are bullfinches. A flock of five were in the willows at the end of the reedbed boardwalk just off the Long Path. They are also showing in the scrub at the back of the Wildlife Garden. Hawfinches are still around as well.

Snipe were easier to see in the cold weather as some emerged to find food. On my walk this morning most of the ice has melted but I still managed to spot 14 snipe at the Lapwing hide, a few opposite the Ramsar hide and one at the Scrape hide.

We received lots of great photos this week – great kingfisher shots from Alec Pelling and red kite photos from Romeny Turner.

A red kite circling above the Ramsar hide on Thurs 14 Dec by Romney Turner