First up were the new owl boxes. We already have 1 on site, but this was used by Mandarin Ducks this year (see here), so we decided another 2, located in other areas of woods might be used by the Tawny Owls we know are on site. Jim, who has much more knowledge about owl boxes than me, came along and put them up for us. Hopefully in February or March next year I'll be able to report our first eggs and young. Just as we were walking away from the first box we actually saw a Tawny Owl perched in a tree being mobbed!
Next up was the annual tit box cleaning session. We do this at this time of the year because the resident birds have all finished breding, so there's no fear of disturbance. Removing the left over nesting materials and any dead chicks or eggs also means that the boxes will be in the best condition for the new season next year. Evidence that this year had been a good one for Blue and Great Tits came with the discovery of just 3 unhatched eggs and no dead young. Our only nesting attempt by the Pied Flycatchers ended in disaster when the female bird disappeared, presumably dead, after laying 3 eggs. These obviously did not hatch and they were removed and destroyed today.
Last up today was the monthly WeBS walk. Given all the other activities this month's walk wasn't quite as thorough as previous month's, however, we did still manage a new site record with an amazing 80 Canda Geese (plus the hybrid) on the top reservoir!! I must admit to having mixed feelings about this record. Although it's great to have such high numbers, I do fear they could take over as they have done in so many other sites. Let's keep watching and see what happens.
Apart from the geese we had another excellent sighting with 3 Great-crested Grebes present and our highest ever count of Teal with 6 (2 males and 4 females). Given the low water levels at the moment, they may stay around for the winter? Again, let's wait and see.
26 Black-headed Gulls were also on site along with 31 Tufted Ducks, 6 Moorhens, 3 Coots, 8 Mandarins (a massive under estimate I'm sure!), 60+ Mallards, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorants, 1 Grey Heron which was heard, 1 Grey Wagtail and 2 Pied Wagtails.
Whilst checking the boxes we recorded the usual woodland birds (Tits, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Crow) as well as 4 Common Buzzards over the top reservoir, the first Redwings of the winter a single Red Admiral and one Speckled Wood buttefly. All in all an amazing morning!