Sunday, 27 January 2013

Winter Wildlife at Knettishall

The wildlife has had it rather tough in the last month or so, with heavy rain and flooding in the New Year followed by freezing temperatures keeping the snow on the ground for up to 2 weeks in many places. Knettishall has been no exception, yet the many walkers this month have seen an array of exciting Winter wildlife to report. Between times of the high flood water levels the Little Ouse has proven it's worth since the river work in September (see blog dated 15th Sep 2012):
Signs of Otters Lutra lutra using the stretch of the river at Knettishall have been reported as walkers have found Otter spraint along the river path. Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea have been sighted fairly regularly particularly at times of lower water levels when the new riffles, where the water flows faster over the rocks, have created greater hunting opportunities for them as they look for invertebrates to feed on. Similarly Kingfishers Alcedo atthis have also benefited from the river work and were spotted hunting up the stretch bordered by the blue river trail (pictured right under flood water) at Knettishall before Christmas.

Many local walkers have reported regular sightings of a hunting Barn Owl Tyto alba flying low over the meadows in this area, no doubt they are spending more time hunting during the tougher conditions. We hope to encourage this species to breed at Knettishall in the future and any reports are welcome; follow this link to find out more about the Trusts Barn Owl project:
Other species to look out for at Knettishall Heath over the rest of Winter include mixed flocks of Redwing Turdus iliacus and Fieldfare Turdus pilaris. Both members of the Thrush family they are a delight to watch as they move to various trees such as Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna looking for berries to feed on. They can be spotted moving across most areas of the reserve at the moment.

And lastly I believe one of the most rewarding birds when out on a Winter walk is the Goldcrest Regulus regulus. A delightful bird that frequents Coniferous woodland and scrub it is right at home on the reserve. Winter is a great time to look for it as it becomes easier to spot moving around amongst mixed tit flocks.

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