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Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve

An S.S.S.I. Managed by Woolston Eyes Conservation Group

Woolston Eyes Monthly Sightings


The morning started with 500 Starlings and 40 Pied Wagtails coming out of their reed-bed roosts on No.3 bed. Redwings were also filtering through the bed, while small skeins of Pink-footed Geese were regularly moving eastwards and odd Brambling, Siskins and Lesser Redpolls dropping in. On No.4 4 Stonechats were flitting around, another Brambling flew over and the hundreds of wildfowl included Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard and Coot. Unusually for this time year, a reasonable number of gulls were still present, totalling 85 Black-headed, 7 Lesser Black-backs and 3 Herring. Photo of a male Kestrel Cheers David (with Dave Steel, Brian Baird and Sue Haddock)

Submitted by: David Bowman


It was a bit of a “heron” morning, starting at dawn on No.3 bed with the surprise of a Bittern standing in front of the South Screen. It took flight as soon as I raised my binoculars but dropped back into the reed bed, though I was unable to relocate it. Hopefully it will stay around for a while. Once very rare on the Reserve, Bitterns are now annual visitors and we hope, with the increased wetland area on No.4 bed, to one day see them breeding. At this time of year we lower the water levels to enable reed-bed management to take place, which has the side effect of concentrating the fish population and always brings in quite a few Grey Herons. Today, 8 were feeding around the bed and they were soon joined by a third member of the heron family, when 3 Little Egrets dropped in. Other sightings of note included: 1 Woodcock, 2 Green Sandpipers, 4 Fieldfares and 360 Redwings. Photo of one of the Little Egrets Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman


While not hitting the heights of the last few visits, there was still a steady trickle of migration over No.3 bed this morning. The main species moving were: 415 Redwings, 3 Fieldfares, 63 Siskins, 180 Chaffinches and 61 Pied Wagtails, plus a few Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. There was plenty of variety around the bed, too, with a female Goldeneye, 2 Wigeon, a Green Sandpiper, the odd Common Snipe, a few Linnets, 200 Teal, 140 Shoveler, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Shelduck, 80 Goldfinches, 60 Greenfinches and 4 Goldcrests the pick of bunch.
This link is to a short video showing Green Sandpipers, Grey Wagtail, Marsh Harrier and Water Rail from No.3 bed, earlier in the week. To watch David’s video CLICK HERE… or cut and paste the following link into your browser.


Photo of the new No.4 bed wetland Cheers David (with Dan Owen and David Spencer)

Submitted by: David Bowman


With the wind from the south, low cloud and a dry forecast it looked good again for visible migration. Before sunrise we were in our usual elevated position on No.1 bed, to be greeted by a Marsh Harrier and a few Redwings leaving their roosts and the beginning of a steady, southward stream of Woodpigeons. While not approaching the exceptional numbers experienced on Thursday, it still turned out to be an excellent day. By the end of the morning, 5,200 Woodpigeons, 2,000 Pink-footed Geese, 6 Golden Plover, 12 Bramblings, 265 Redwings, 100 Meadow Pipits, 10 Siskins, 1 Lesser Redpoll and 56 Skylarks had passed over. In addition, species wintering on or around the bed included: 20 Mandarins, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 12 Common Snipe, 800 Lapwings and 120 Linnets. Photo of the view towards Butchersfield Tip from No.1 bed Cheers David (with Dave Steel and Dan Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman


This week saw two very contrasting days. Tuesday was wet but humid and we concentrated on counting the wetland birds on Nos.3 and 4 beds. The recent rainy weather has seen water levels rise on No.4 bed, resulting in an increase in wildfowl numbers but a reduction in the numbers of feeding Snipe and Jack Snipe. Totals included: 4 Jack Snipe, 30 Common Snipe, 2 Green Sandpipers and around a thousand waterfowl. In addition, No.3 bed produced a Marsh Harrier and another Jack Snipe. This morning, however, dawned clear and cold with a setting full moon and a light but chilly northerly. Ideal conditions for visible migration, so Dan Owen and I were in position on No.1 bed at sunrise for what proved to be an exceptional morning’s counting. Right from the off it was clear that large numbers of Woodpigeons were on the move and by mid-day more than 15,000 had passed over - a record count for the Reserve. Other counts of note included: 23 Whooper Swans, 1 Marsh Harrier, 450 Redwings, 1 Fieldfare, 114 Pink-footed Geese, 19 Siskins, 4 Bramblings, 5 Lesser Redpolls, 61 Skylarks, 92 Meadow Pipits, 18 Pied Wagtails and 7 Grey Wagtails. A wander around the bed produced: 1 Roe Deer, 1 Green Sandpiper, 12 Common Snipe and 50 Linnets. Another really memorable day. Photo of a Grey Heron Cheers David (with Dan Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman


A spectacular morning on No.3 bed, with ideal weather conditions, of low cloud and a light south-south-westerly breeze, triggering an unprecedented movement of Redwings. By the end of the morning 200 flocks, totalling 8,700 had passed over No.3 bed, accompanied by a wide variety of other migrants. Perhaps most intriguing of these was the count of 82 Jays, in 29 small flocks which all flew due south at higher elevation than the tree-skimming Redwings. Every once in a while the acorn crop fails on the continent, triggering a mass influx of Jays. Could this be one of those rare years? Other species moving included: 1 Hawfinch, 1 late Swallow, 5 Bramblings, 5 Fieldfares, 18 Siskins, 31 Lesser Redpolls, 1 Little Egret, 165 Chaffinches, 28 Meadow Pipits and 20 Skylarks. Around the bed notable sightings included: 3 Chiffchaffs, 8 Cetti’s Warblers, 20 Goldcrests, 1 Green Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 2 Kingfishers and 25 Song Thrushes. Photo of a juvenile male Sparrowhawk Cheers David (with Dan Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman


Despite the overcast conditions, with occasional light drizzle, Dan Owen and I managed to find a good variety of birds this morning. Early on a Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret flew in front of the Morgan Hide. Then, as we were leaving the bed to do a survey of the No.4 bed wetland, an early Brambling and six Siskins were noted passing over. A thorough count on No.4 bed produced some excellent numbers, with 12 Jack Snipe being particularly notable, as our highest count for many years. Other counts of note included: 2 Dunlin, 1 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 58 Common Snipe, 100 Teal, 310 Mallard, 92 Gadwall, 94 Coot, 5 Grey Wagtails and 26 Meadow Pipits. Photo of a drake Teal Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman


A busy morning, completing the monthly Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS). We do these every month from September to April, which contributes to the national picture of wetland bird numbers. October is also the month when we are likely to see the final “crossover” between the last southbound summer migrants and the arrival of our winter visitors. I never feel it’s truly autumn until Pink-footed Geese come in from Iceland and Redwings from Scandinavia. After the heavy movement of Pink-feet earlier in the week, today saw another 580 moving west in four skeins. Keeping eyes on the skies finally produced 86 Redwings slipping over in small flocks, while the two Swallows, also moving south, may be the last we see till next spring. The WeBS count produced some excellent numbers, mainly from the new No.4 bed wetland, along with a less than welcome sight. Totals included: 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 88 Common Snipe, 16 Wigeon, 4 Water Rails, 2 Kingfishers plus 1,200 of the commoner water-birds. Less palatable was the sight of two paramotors which came in over the west bank of No.4 bed, flushing all of the 1,000+ birds. Use of paramotors over Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), such as our Reserve is not permitted for obvious reasons. Photo of No.4 bed Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman


Back on the Reserve this morning, after a nice break touring the south-west of the UK, to be greeted by pleasant sunshine and a light north-westerly breeze. Things started well, with a Kingfisher perched in front of the Morgan Hide and a skein of 700 Pink-footed Geese heading west. With reports coming in of large numbers of geese on the move throughout the north-west, it was no surprise to see 1,600 more Pink-feet moving eastwards, mid-morning. On my way to meet our contractor, for a review meeting about the No.4 bed wetland, I ducked into the Sybil Hogg Hide, where Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail were all skulking about, giving brief views. Wildfowl were then suddenly flushed from cover by some unseen predator, enabling me to get counts of 125 Shoveler and 7 Common Snipe. Over on No.4 bed, progress continues apace and both cells held plenty of birds, with highlights of one Jack Snipe and 88 Common Snipe. Photo of a Nuthatch Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman