|Create Christmas decorations like this robin from last year at our Naturally Christmas craft sessions!|
Whilst all this planning and excitement has been going on, it has been business as usual for the wildlife out on the reserve. At the moment, a visit to the reserve should provide plenty of opportunities for good views of our special winter wildlife. Several goldeneye are seen on a daily basis now on the Sailing Lake and on Long Reach (viewable from Bess's Hide), with hints of courtship behaviour occasionally seen. This is where multiple males may trail a female as she swims across the water, throwing their heads back, stretching their necks up and calling a grating 'ze-zeee' note to her- each male is trying to convince her to spend the winter (and the subsequent breeding season) with him rather than the other males. Numbers of other winter ducks such as pochard, teal, wigeon and gadwall are building up by the day, and Bernard's, Double Decker and Steggall's hide are excellent spots to sit and watch their behaviour. Some species of ducks are dabblers (feeding just below the water surface) whilst others are divers and it is fascinating to watch the different feeding strategies of each species, especially on a crisp, bright winters' day. Sometimes they'll interact with each other, too- its common to see coots following tufted ducks (a diving species) around as they dredge up plant material from the lake bottom to eat, with the coots looking for stray pieces that they can eat themselves, or even pinching bits from right under the bills of the tufties if they're quick enough. A more sedate resident of the pools and scrapes at this time of year (on The Slough especially) is the snipe. This beautiful tortoiseshell wader tends to feed on its own or in small groups in the muddy edges of the water, using its long, straight, sensitive bill like a motion sensor to probe the mud for the movement of worm and insect prey. Snipe numbers have been building since October at Lackford and visitors should be able to appreciate them all through the winter on the reserve.
|Your Christmas shopping could prove a hoot- owl-themed gifts in the Centre at Lackford (owl soft toys, owl foldable shopping bags and owl coin purses)|
If you find yourself stuck for ideas for what to get your friends and family this Christmas, at this time of year the Centre is well-stocked with wildlife-themed Christmas cards and imaginative gifts, so why not pop along to have a look at what's on offer and combine your next visit to the reserve with a bit of Christmas shopping? Many of the gifts are a little different to what you can find on the High Street and are ideal for anyone who loves wildlife, and you can support the Trust at the same time. I hope this update has been useful, and please do get in touch with the reserve if you'd like to find out more about what's going on over the next couple of months.
by Heidi Jones