Friday, 16 April 2010

Reedbed Reserve

Marsh Harrier [male]
Willow Warbler
Feeling at Home
Pregnant Common Shrew?
Last term Fridays endured the worst weather of every particular week, today we felt we had turned a corner as we enjoyed the best weather of the week. The morning started well with a Willow Tit in the car park, but we couldn't get in the Main hide, which was packe by job shy teaching staff! Instead, we tracked down a pair of Blackcaps in the hedgerow - most people got views eventually, but they were a very flighty pair & wouldn't remain still for long. We also saw Willow Warblers & Chiffchaffs, but the latter were much harder to see in the afternoon, and the Blackcaps made only distant snatches of their sweet notes. Cetti's Warblers punctuated the day with their outbursts of song, and we may have heard as many as 3 different birds. Bullfinches played hard to get, but we did catch glimpses between the many twigs & branches. Most of the winter wildlfowl had departed but there were single pairs of Shoveler, Pochard & Teal with larger numbers of Gadwall & Tufted Ducks. We also heard Curlew & also the "Klute, Klute" of Avocets which must have been travelling along the river. The highlight for both classes was probably the male Marsh Harrier, which we were able to view from an otherwise unpromising hide dedicated to a long-deceased teenager. Rather surprisingly, there was only 1 Swallow, and that singleton was at the very end of the day, and there were absolutely no Martins. The corresponding last-minute high in the morning was a small black mammal which was busy in the short grass near the car park & a fair distance from the water - either a Water Shrew, or more likely a pregnant Common Shrew - larger & darker than bog standard shrews. It was a very rewarding day at an excellent reserve, and at last some decent weather to enjoy.


RKB said...

I don't think that's a Water Shrew, Michael. It looks much too brown, with no clear demarcation between a sooty black back and silvery underside. Also, the tail doesn't seem to show the 'rudder' of hairs, and Water Shrews also have a paddle of hairs on the hind feet which I can't see. It looks like a Common Shrew to me, possibly a pregnant female.

Michael Flowers said...

Thanks for that. It certainly wasn't the clear cut case we saw a couple of years ago, so will change the blog post, Cheers