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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First frost of winter

Whilst October went out with a big blow and November came in with quite a bit of rain temperatures remained quite mild until last night when we finally had (I believe) the first frost of the season.

Yesterday though we had a morning at the Greylake RSPB reserve over on the Levels. The weather was kind with wonderful mackerel skies

 and we were surprised to see dragonflies and some rather tatty looking red admirals still on the wing as they made the most of the sunshine. Unfortunately the former will shortly die, usually only lasting 2-4 weeks as adults and the latter is unlikely to survive the winter either, even though some do manage to hibernate in sheltered spots, most of the ones  we will be seeing again in the spring actually migrate here from Europe.

Other birds we were lucky enough to see included a peregrine and some close up snipe. The peregrine, after spending some time preening whilst sitting on top of a fence post, suddenly took off in hot pursuit of three unwary pigeons which flew high over it. It flew at them, separating them and then targeted one, easily catching it up as it flew on in a panic. I did not see the outcome as they dived behind some trees but as a peregrine emerged soon after and flew back to a nearby pylon, often used by them as a look out point, I suspect the pigeon made its escape successfully.

The snipe, in contrast, remained in the reeds, brilliantly camouflaged, so even though it was close to the hide for most of our stay, occasionally preening, it was easy to miss unless pointed out.

This is always a good reserve to watch winter wildfowl from the comfort of a hide and the peregrine is often joined by merlin and other birds of prey in the winter months as it a useful "feeding" station for them when the weather really turns cold.
There is also a newly built hide( see below), which is slightly raised and  which, whilst not totally weather proof, gives even better views of the pools and reeds in front of it.

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