THE WINTER solstice is a few weeks past and optimistic mistle thrush, robins and dunnocks have begun singing in response to the slight increase in daylight. Granted this increase is only 1 minute plus at the end of the day and the grey weather obscures it. Starting Wednesday our sunrise will start earlier as well as our sunset arriving later and it won’t be long before even we humans notice the change in the daylight. By the end of January the day will be a full three minutes brighter at Arundel Wetland Centre.
The 50 + teal onsite are also getting ready for spring. The males are bobbing, giving head flips and whistling like clockwork toys to woo the females. A group of 30 was near the Ramsar hide with the rest on Arun Riverlife, visible to café visitors. A kingfisher was also thrilling café visitors by perching on the roof overhang off and on over the Christmas break. Two kingfishers have been chasing each other ariund the reserve – whether this is pairing up or territorial I am not sure.
We are due more cold weather which will keep kingfisher sightings strong. Five Bewick’s swans are now confirmed in the Arun Valley. I found many white feathers on the water’s edge near the Sand Martin hide on Sunday morning after an icy night. Could the Bewick’s have come in to roost at WWT Arundel? I did see 13 little egrets coming in to roost on the Sunday evening, six on the dead trees near the Ramsar hide and another 7 in the air coming into land.
Five marsh harriers are still coming into roost in the evenings. I watched a sparrowhawk go after the pied wagtails again as they roosted in the reeds and watched another sparrowhawk pursue a wren or goldfinch, flying erratic and trying to follow it into the shrubbery.
I was surprised to find more droppings from a brown-long eared bat in the Sand Martin hide. With few insects about I wonder what he has been finding to eat. While checking the side chambers of the hide I also spotted hanging from the ceiling a hibernating small tortoiseshell butterfly, peacock butterfly and a herald moth.