Tuesday 20 November 2012

November Open Sunday Review

Our third Open Sunday was blessed with possibly the best day of the Month so far, weather wise, with clear blue skies, bright golden sunshine and just the right amount of frosty bite to make for an exhilarating day.
Three Mute Swans looking glorious in the Autumn sunshine

The word now seems to be spreading about the FoHESC Open Sundays and the combination of good publicity, great weather and our special guest for the day – Andy Harding (Bucks County Bird Recorder) – resulted in our largest turn-out so far with well over fifty visitors to the centre.

The morning commenced with Andy leading a posse of newly sworn-in deputies around the main lake to conduct his monthly water bird and wader survey. Prior to the count Andy explained the purpose and importance of the survey which forms part of The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).

WeBS is the scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and to identify important sites for waterbirds. More details can be found at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs
During the survey, Andy kept our visitors involved in helping identify and count the many different species of water birds spotted - the whole experience was both informative and a lot of fun.

The principle species found and recorded on the reserve main lake were as follows –
Coot - .42 .
Pochard - 17
Wigeon - 353
Tufted Duck - 119
Canada Geese - 1
Great Crested Grebe - 11
Mute Swan - 52
Gadwall - 37
Grey Lag - 410
Cormorants - 16
this list is by no means exhaustive and other smaller numbers of species were also recorded.

In addition to the above we were also fortunate enough to spot 3 Kingfisher (the most Andy has ever recorded in a single visit to HESC), 7 Little Grebe and 5 Snipe, plus a few Shoveller, Teal and Mallard.
352,353 This pair of Wigeon make sure they are included in the count

Although the above represents a snap shot taken at that particular time and day, the results clearly demonstrate what an important site HESC is for these birds, as they move into and around the country.

Following the count, our visitors explored other areas of the reserve for themselves, visited other hides to do a bit of birding of their own (including watching our resident Marsh Tits at the Woodland feeding station) or relaxed in the centre with a cuppa and browsed our book store and displays.
Apart from the water birds there were plenty of other species to see including
Redwings in many of the trees and bushes

In the afternoon Andy graciously submitted to a well attended, open interview with Tony Bedford in a Q&A session, which covered his initial steps into birding, advice for newcomers into the hobby, the importance and reason for collecting data on bird numbers and movements, his thoughts on the proposed new wind farm at Haversham and included stories of his overseas trips and entertaining anecdotes.
Andy fielding another of Tony's Questions
and holding the audience's attention
Although it is impossible to cover everything discussed here; in summary, Andy advised that probably the best single thing that newcomers to bird watching could do, was to join a local club or organisation where they could get help and advice from fellow birders and partake in organised outings and trips etc.

Andy shared some of our concerns regarding the effect that the proposed Haversham wind farm may have on HESC and other local wildlife habitats such as Little Linford Woods and firmly declared his support and backing for HESC as one of the most interesting and important bird and wildlife reserves in the area.

Despite the amount of time he had already donated to us, Andy then kindly offered to accompany those who wished, out to the hides for a final birding session. An offer which many of our visitors gladly accepted.

Once again our Open Sunday proved a thoroughly enjoyable day for all concerned and as always we would like to thank the visitors who decided to join as new permit holders and or join the Friends Group, make purchases, give donations and contribute to making the whole day such a success. We would also like to specially thank Andy Harding who was key to making this our best open event yet.

Our next Open Sunday will be on December 16th, please also feel free to join us at our next maintenance Sunday on December 2nd (10am start).

Best wishes and I look forward to meeting with you all again soon.
Tony Bedford


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