Saturday, 1 November 2014

Weekly Update: Arrivals and Battles

The unseasonably warm weather continues with temperatures reaching record levels for the end of October.

Although workload has meant I have not spent as much time at Big Waters as I would like there were a few nice sightings and a few winter visitors arriving and even a little unusual behavior from the residents.

The beginning of the week was grey, cloudy and miserable but the temperatures were unusually high for this time of year but the weather did not put off the migrants from coming into Big Waters even if some of them were quickly chased off.

Mute Swans commence battle (click to enlarge)
At the beginning of the week 12 Whooper Swans arrived on the pond and were looking quite settled, but only for a short while. Within half an hour the resident Mute swans were approaching aggressively to see off the ponds newest visitors.

All 12 of the Whooper Swans soon took the hint and flew off to more hospitable waters.

Whooper Swans (click to enlarge)
I was surprised then to see two of the Swans that had been chased off return to the pond.

Despite continued pressure from three adult Mutes and their Signets, the Whoopers stood their ground nipping one of the Mutes and a signet which for a while saw the aggression subside.

This was the first time I had seen the Whooper Swans stand their ground successfully and see off the aggression of the resident Mutes.

Unfortunately on my return to the reserve later in the week I discovered the remaining two, more resilient Whooper Swans, had eventually given in to the pressure and left the reserve, this time without returning.

Greylag Geese coming in to land on Big Waters (click to enlarge)
Early in the week I also saw 150 Greylag Geese arrive on the pond with almost deafening calls. The geese arrived in two or three big groups and from what appeared to be almost precision formation flying they land with significantly less grace, swaying from side to side and legs hanging below before finally hitting the water.

I was pleased to see the geese returning to the pond and adjacent field throughout the week and hope to see them stay throughout the winter months. I returned to the hide today to see them making themselves at home along side the resident Mute Swans on the east scrape not far from the hide itself.

Greylag Geese on the east scrape (click to enlarge)
The feeding station also saw its fair share of different visitors, a reed bunting was happily feeding on the seed in the feeder nearest to the hide and goldcrests have also been a common sight. Although only in low numbers I hope these initial sightings increase during the coming weeks.

Male Reed Bunting in the feeding station (click to enlarge)
Today I got another first for me, a Grey Heron low in the water of the lake after catching and eating what appeared to be a water vole. The capture and eating part I had seen on several occasions before, but the low perching in the water was a first for me, perhaps it was for digestion, or maybe just for a wash.

The Grey Heron washes its vole in the pond before swallowing whole (click to enlarge)

The Grey Heron sits low in the water for 10 minutes (click to enlarge)

I have spent almost as much time on the paths and boardwalks as in the hide itself. Fieldfair, red wing, goldcrest and treecreepers have been a common sight in the trees, fields and bushes between the car park and the hide although conditions were not suitable for good quality photographs so I was limited to just watching them.

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