Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 20, 2019

A delightful decade at Saltholme

The   RSPB reserve at Saltholme  is now ten years old!

Happy birthday, Saltholme!

This time of year the lapwings show themselves in clouds called deceits. Notice how at a distance the flickering pattern of dark wings and a white body en masse gives a flickering appearance, making it more difficult for a predator to single out an individual bird.

We have hundreds in the sky when they flock like this.

They swoop in smaller groups in the mass as they approach the ground which again makes it harder to follow an individual bird.

Only a few seconds separate these pictures above and below, and yet in the bottom one you’d hardly know the field was full of Lapwings unless you knew.

They are wonderful to see on the ground, especially in bright sunlight when their iridescent feathers sparkle from green to blue.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Before Christmas, we had congregations of Golden Plover to accompany the Lapwings, but they have moved up to the salt marshes near Greatham Creek. All except one.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

A solitary Lapwing watches a coil of Wigeon waddle past in this video

They are numerous too, on the reserve in their hundreds.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

In amongst the Wigeon were Red Breasted Merganser, and a Black Headed Gull having a minor squabble.

Red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) and Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

The Black headed Gull is in its winter plumage, with just a few dark spots on its head.

The Red breasted Merganser

has a sharp hook at the end of its elongated bill to help it catch its prey which are fish.

Also on the waters were Shelduck

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

and Pintail

Pintail (Anas acuta)

And Little Grebes (before they dive into the water).

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Canadian and Greylag geese swam past the newly refurbished Saltholme hide

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)


Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

There were about 100 Barnacle Geese on Saltholme field.

Close up they are beautifully patterned.

Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

On the feeders by the Visitors Centre were Goldfinch and Greenfinch

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Along the fences Stonchats appeared.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Thrushes were also visible. First, Redwings.

Redwings were in the trees close to Wildlife Watchpoint.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Fieldfare were in the trees too.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

and a Blackbird tucking into the berries.


Blackbird (Turdus merula)

The sun set, reflecting on the water the night before a Lunar Eclipse

And finally on the reserve were three different types of Owl.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

This was one of four seen in the Scrubs.

Then a Short Eared Owl hunting on the wing.

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Finally in the distance, a Barn Owl quartering,  searching an area by flying over it, back and forth.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

You can see my highlights of the past ten years from Saltholme here

and see how the reserve has changed over the years.

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