Work parties, waxwings and where’s that otter?

I’ve had a busy week and a half back at work after the Christmas break. I started the year with meeting one of our ecology team to survey some of the trees at Fishlake Meadows for bats. It was interesting getting to see some of their different gadgets in action, including an endoscope camera. This allows the ecologists to check inside small nooks and crannies to see if there are any bats or signs that bats have been in there.

On the 4th I managed to go and see the waxwings in Totton. It was great to see them, it’s been about 6 years since I last saw any. They weren’t at all bothered about the crowd of people that came to see them, which was about 50 strong! Waxwings first arrive along the East coast with Scotland and the North getting the higher numbers. They then spread South and West in the search of their favourite food, berries. Amenity planting around car parks draw them in as they often have lots of trees with berries on.

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The 6th of January was the first work party of the year at Fishlake Meadows, and thanks to a dry festive period we were able to get back to scrub cutting in the reedbed. We are working to clear a thick block of scrub over a few years. This will hopefully allow the reedbed to extend to the cleared areas, which has already begun to happen in the sections cleared last year. This work also has the added bonus of improving views across the reserve from the canal footpath.

After the work party I took the chance to have a good walk around the reserve to see what was about. I had a pretty successful walk, seeing a few pintail and teal from the screens, whilst there I also heard an otter bark, followed by a splosh in the ditch, hopefully I will see one soon! Walking back along the permissive path I spotted a marsh harrier circling high over the body of water nearest the Fishlake Meadows road. Near the gate on the permissive path I stopped to get a look at a kestrel on the pylons, as I scanned up I noticed there was a kingfisher showing well at the edge of the small pool. There have been quite a few sightings of them recently.

kingfisher fishlake

Kingfisher – not the best photo, taken on my phone through binoculars.

Just before leaving the starlings began gathering and murmurating in pretty good numbers. On the whole it was quite a relaxed murmuration as no peregrine appeared to give chase. Its likely that the starlings will continue to gather and murmurate at Fishlake into February. A good place to watch from is the platforms along the canal path or near the screens. starlings 6 (6th jan)starlings 7 (6th jan)

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