Tuesday, 2 December 2008

One Less Fish in the Mere

This Little Grebe catches a lot of fish. In fact the only fish I see these days are the ones in his beak, or that of a Kingfisher.

Click image for larger version.

Robins Posing

It must be heading towards Xmas. All they need is a bit of snow...

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Here's that pair of little Grebes (click for bigger as always), swimming across the mere. For once they're not swimming directly away from my camera lens!

Also, here's one of the pair of kingfishers. Not a good photo (far away and very dim light) but it's nice to see them nonetheless - and I have every time I've been down recently.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

woodpecker behaviour

Popped down to the reserve lunchtime today during a lovely sunny spell. Went to my post on the far bridge and waited. Sure enough after 10 minutes, the great spotted woodpecker turned up. I've decided that I particularly like the beautiful brightly coloured birds - last year I was interested in the kingfisher but haven't seen it for months. Anyhow the woodpecker perched for a few seconds on a higher flat branch, possibly assessing the dangers around it (can an 'it' assess?) and then flew directly to the spot where I'd seen the small hole before. There was a flurry of what seemed like woodshavings and then it seemed to be going backwards and forwards - whether marking territory or squeezing backwards into its small hole. It then disappeared from sight. Sometime I'll have to go into the parkland on the other side to get a better view but it's a bit of a bother. In the next 10 minutes there were a number of visitors to this specific bit of the dead tree tops - it seems quite a social area, though I don't know how welcome they all are at the meeting - wood pigeons, blackbirds? eating what looked like scrambled egg but I doubt this and magpies. Funny how I perceive birds differently: I really like the "beautiful" ones; I dislike the ugly black ones and I'm just about to appreciate a chicken - for lunch!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Two Little Grebes

There's usually one Little Grebe on the mere, but at the weekend, I saw a pair for the first time. They're small and shy and I didn't have a sufficiently big lens to get a picture of them, but look out for the small brown things diving in the Mere and coming up with fish.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

'Tis Great

I saw the woodpecker straightaway again today - as I know where to find it and I've got the 'jizz' of what it looks like. What I saw was a female great spotted woodpecker (red undertail feathers) according to my bird book. It had no red cap or red nape of head. It was virtually at the top of the dead tree trunk and I noticed that it was poking its beak continuously into the same hole. It was hard to see as it was round at the side a bit, so I think I'll try and look for it some time from the other side of the river. In fact, I've discovered I can see these trees from my flat with my stronger binoculars!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

great or lesser?

I saw a woodpecker today in their usual spot - the tall dead trees at the far end of the site. I have heard a very loud knocking made by a woodpecker in the past but had never seen one till today...This was definitely a woodpecker but was pretty small - smaller than the collared doves in the tree. Looking back on the blog, it is a great spotted woodpecker that has been sighted, as far as I can see - but I would have guessed this was a lesser spotted, from its size

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Canoe believe it!

Actually it's a kyak, which was submerged against the opposite bank of the Ver at the back of the reserve.

Jack fished it out and found these American signal crayfish in residence. The base of that bucket is 18cm across so they're pretty impressive at full stretch!

Saturday, 20 September 2008


I snapped this swan when it was alone on the mere. A couple of days later there are four fairly mature signets too. And a little grebe. And a heron. And a kingfisher. All at once!

Monday, 8 September 2008

WWA Summer Event 2008

A little late to be posting about this, because it was 28th June that the Summer Event was held, but it was a great day and worth reporting. Better late than never.

Pond dipping was a big attraction with kids and adults alike.

I must say I assumed there wasn't much life at all in the water, since I never see anything other than fish. How wrong I was! We found the following in one small spot:

  • Tadpoles - quite big ones, some with legs

  • Small diving beetles - pure black - max 1cm long

  • Water louse

  • Caddisfly larvae - wrapped in debris, with just head and legs poking out of the front

  • Some sort of nymphs

  • Three spined sticklebacks, including pregnant males and very showy red bellied males

  • A baby newt - found the next day during clear up

  • Small shrimps

After all that fun we had a BBQ and the adults played whack a rat with even more vigour than the children.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

sunday 27th


.............. hoverfly

sundry flies



Large white

The developing butterfly area is attracting......... butterflies!

Meanwhile a new colour has appeared in the mere

this looks more like a fuzzy satellite image.

Was actually taken 1.5m above water level!

Thursday, 3 July 2008



spotted at the Pyghtle feeders, a new visitor,
a young nuthatch, seen the previous day as well.
-have yet to catch sight of the adult birds at the Mere,
so keep looking!

in an attempt to confuse me,
trying to look and act like a nuthatch,
a great tit . . isn't birding wonderful?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Teenage mutant ninja turtle!

Something stirred deep in the swamplands of the WWA - an intruder all the way from the Mississippi (or rather the local pet shop!)........a female Red-eared Terrapin which had grown to a length of almost 10 inches - now seen captured in one of our yellow trugs. She is safely in the hands of the RSPCA officer (literally) after probably having been released into the Reserve by an irresponsible pet owner. These terrapins were all the rage as pets in the 1990s when the T.V. series 'Teenage mutant ninja turtles' was broadcast . But when people bought them they were only tiny. Then they grew.......and grew...and people no longer wanted them as pets. How long she had been living in the 'Boggy Area' is unknown - apparently they can hibernate in mud for long periods. She may have surfaced recently as the temperature has risen. Committee member Jack thought he caught a glimpse of her some weeks ago - and he was right!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Rare migrants and common vagrants

Yesterday rare migrants, common vagrants, residents and fairly scarce summer visitors were spotted at the site. Unfortunately we also had some sightings of vermin. Olivia is going to dispose of an unpleasant looking purplefooted mouse

Ann tried to splat a common rat (rattus horribilis) whilst Steve supervised when to hit it.

A new colourful species of butterfly was sighted. It got attached to this little boy

A dragonfly was spotted which is endemic to the site
This young visitor thought she'd take a duck home

This little boy thought the duck was a fake

Jack caught this new species of duck (anas plasticus)

(and a very pleasant summer party was enjoyed by all)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Mostly Insects

Here's an arty shot of a bumble bee on a flower in the butterfly garden.

A damselfly in the alligator's mouth.

OK, so this isn't an insect. It's the heron that's been a near permanent resident on the mere, taking off from the fallen tree.

A fly, on the bridge railing. Common, yes, but interesting in close-up all the same.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

a moorhen count

a clutch of moorhen chicks are being raised near the aquifer,
east of the main bridge across The Mere.
Safety seems assured by the nearby straw rolls
and the netting that holds them together.

However, the herons are after them.

I counted four chicks and witnessed two heron attacks.
All survived, but for how long I wonder?

on the prowl

look carefully and you may just count all four chicks

feeding time

Saturday, 17 May 2008


a female blackbird "anting".
This behaviour is part of many a bird species cleaning regime.
An ants nest is upset, the ants attack the perpetrator
with formic acid, this kills mites etc.
A dust bath or wash then finishes the job.

a young heron, something of a regular in the last few weeks.
There is something primeval and fascinating about these birds . . .

Monday, 5 May 2008


A heron goes in for the kill! There's been one on duty on the mere for a few days.

I imagine it's all the fish that attract the heron. The mere is teeming with them. Just stand on the bridge for a few seconds and you'll see plenty. They're hard to photograph though!

The butterfly meadow is coming along brilliantly with a variety of butterflies seen across the site. Here's a Speckled Wood.

Monday, 28 April 2008


Already, this year, there have been butterflies seen on the perennial Wallflower (Bowles Mauve) in the Butterfly Meadow. The bees seem to love it too.
Lots of small fish have just appeared in the Mere last week – especially noticeable near the main bridge.
The new bird feeding station has proved to be a success. There have been sightings of a female Brambling, Siskins, and two Reed buntings (a first for the Reserve) feeding at the station.
The Water rail is still around. Also there is a pair of Kingfishers about at the moment which hopefully will breed on the Reserve.
Notable flora in bloom include Primrose, Green Alkanet, Ramsons, Violets, Marsh Marigold, Cowslips, Fritillary, Perennial Wallflower and the first Bluebells. The native Daffodils and Snowdrops have finished and Cow Parsley is taking over instead.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Saw these eight ducklings (funny triangular forms in photo on right) at the weekend near the willow tree in the pond. Today I could only see one chick but maybe it was another batch. But then where are the other ducklings?
And where, BTW, are the kingfishers? I haven't seen them for 2 weeks, whereas for the last few months I'd see them every time I visited the site. Has anyone seen them recently?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008



it's interesting to see the alternative uses made of the information signs by animals on the site.
Some wild, some less so.

A resident wren often perches on one post in particular,
by the main bridge, meanwhile, two more residents use them as lookout points.

a jay, busy gathering nest material.

Pippin, just one of four cats spotted this day.

an elusive, but noisy chiffchaff on the railway emankment.
No post needed, just leafy cover.

Monday, 7 April 2008

the obliging heron


on the reserve today, poking about on the margins of the main lagoon, occasionally taking flight to go to the opposite bank.

Slowly he got nearer and nearer, with me crossing the bridge to perhaps sneak a closer shot.