Back up to Stithians on the weekend - a planned morning visit on Friday became an afternoon visit, but it ended up being as successful as could have been hoped for (no limbs lost, achieved mostly what we wanted to really quite smoothly and efficiently, saw some things with wings etc).
I had big (relatively speaking) plans, and stopping en route first for Samuel P, and then again for the required materials, and being hit by one horrendously wintry shower at just the wrong time along the way, arrived on site and decided to quickly check out the Stuart Hutchings Hide before starting any other proceedings. Highlight here was the Slavonian Grebe - showing nicely, along with a sprinkling selection of the other regular fare, including -
4 Meadow Pipit
1 Pied Wagtail
2 Carrion Crows
1 each of Little Egret and Grey Heron
A handful of Teal and Mallard
8+ Little Grebe
And some gulls.
Slavonian Grebe - probably the closest I've seen it to the hide yet
Little and Large - Meadow Pipit and Cormorant
Samuel also reported there being a Goldeneye out there, and there were a few more Wigeon and a Coot off in the distance. An interesting looking female Teal then caught Samuel's attention, so I quickly left to pursue more practical pursuits ...
So the plans; apart from briefly looking into a minor access issue with regard to the Southern Hide, the main activity this visit was to relocate the feeders from over one side of the hide to the other. Recommended advice (RSPB/BTO etc) is to move the feeders in one's garden every month or so to a different spot in order to stop the build up of bird faeces, mouldy bird food ... and hence disease (one can also disinfect the ground as well, something to look into too perhaps).
It's been a while now (and it isn't a garden), but apart from one decidedly off-looking Chaffinch the other week, we've probably gotten away with it thus far, but it's much better to be cautious and avoid potential problems before they occur ...
So with some previously cut alder and willow poles, some other bits of wood and a few stones and fixing materials, it didn't take too long before a new feeding station had suddenly materialised just outside the right hand side of the hide ...
The new feeding area!
Any worries that the birds wouldn't take to it were rapidly dissipated as within a couple of minutes of turning our backs on it and hanging the newly filled feeders up a Robin and a Long-tailed Tit were there. Five minutes and a bundle of Long-tailed Tits were hanging off the feeders, Great and Blue Tits were investigating, and it wasn't long before almost the full range of feeder addicts were present and going for it.
... and the first bird on the feeder prize goes to - the Long-tailed Tit
Shortly followed by a Blue Tit. Cute or wot?
Female Reed Bunting
Goldfinch - there's gold in them thar wings ...
The birds are now less than half the distance they were before - this should please most human visitors, but there may be issues with some of the shyer birds getting used to the idea, and there may be a need for slightly more care to be taken in the hide (noise levels etc), but the birds generally didn't seem all that bothered by our presence when we were there.
Thinking about it, perhaps hanging a feeder or two a little further back may help; a few extra bits of timber might be required and not quite finished yet, but nearly there.
Can't be bothered to type everything out on this occasion when I've already gone and written it down in the notebook - additionally there were two Moorhen under the old feeder - but as shy as ever. Nice to see 5 different Reed Bunting - one male in particular will be looking quite smart pretty soon if it's appearance now is anything to go by ...
Back to the car with considerably less stuff, and continuing on with another little practical project - the regaining of the car parking situation - the local farmer has widened his farm gateway to an enormoooous width - so the visitors to the hide have suddenly found themselves with precious little parking. Verging on the ridiculous - quite literally. Anyway, as if by magic, car parking spaces should be gradually appearing before our very eyes as we speak...
A quick look from the SH Hide again, probably most of the 93 Lapwing which had apparently dropped in earlier still present, with a scattering of gulls, including c40 Black-headed, and time to scoot again ...
A couple of exciting gulls - Herring and Black-headed.
This week gone (7th -14th Feb) was National Nestbox Week apparently (link here).
(Part of the service we provide on this blog is to report important events like this as, when, or shortly after they've happened ...)
I'm not involved with the nestboxes on site at the moment (although perhaps I should be at some stage later in the season), but been reminded now that I do have a couple of nestboxes of my own I really ought to be putting up one of these years ... this one might do.
The obligatory view on a nice winters day showing how the water levels are progressing nicely