Although its fairly sunny now as I write this, earlier on this morning it was somewhat colder on the reserve with a moderate and cold SW wind and heavy grey skies. In fact as I sat in the Tower Hide with a cold blast coming through the observation ports, watching winter birds such as Whitefronts, Wigeon and Teal, it felt like we'd gone back a month. Couple that with the fact that the reserve still hasn't recorded a spring migrant yet, well not on my visits, and it was a tad frustrating (I'm starting to sound like Warren).
The White-fronted Geese number has gone down since Wednesday's 320 and totaled just 160 this morning. There were also 300 Wigeon, 100 Teal, 50 Shoveler, 6 Tufted Duck, 2Pochard, 40 Greylag Geese, 3 Canada Geese, 150 Coot and 26 Avocet.
I also spent some time watching the farmer, whose grazing fields border the Shellness track and have supported huge numbers of birds this winter, and that go all the way round to the Raptor Viewing Mound, both spreading dung and scarifying the fields. This annual and necessary work enables him to get a good hay crop off those same fields each year and all in all those fields have added hugely to the local habit since he returned them from arable to grazing a few years ago.
In a waterlogged/part flooded condition in winter they provide feeding and roosting conditions for a wide range of birds, in spring they provide ideal habitat for nesting Lapwing, Redshank and Skylark and as undisturbed hay meadow until July, provide perfect food, nesting and cover conditions for a wide range of wildlife. Even now, although the fields are a tad too wet for work that would of been best left for a few weeks more for them to dry, he is pressing ahead in order that he keeps ahead of the main Lapwing breeding season.