Early winter feeling

Ray Watson

The wildlife and lakes are taking on a lovely early winter feel at the moment with lots of redwings feeding on the berries and lots of ducks on the lakes

It starts the moment you turn onto the drive and many people are seeing fieldfare and redwings here feeding on the berries in the hedgerows. Once on the reserve, looking out across the sailing lake, all kinds of different wildfowl are present such as wigeon, pochard, tufted duck, gadwall, coots and the odd goldeneye all being spotted from the benches on the Kingfisher path. 

A bit further round and looking at the Slough from Paul’s, Bernard’s and the double-decker hides, lapwing are still in abundance here numbering several hundred, almost a thousand at times. They are always actively taking flight and reeling over the reserve flashing their white underwing in the low light of the day, always magical to see. Whilst they do this, below around the various islands dotted around the Slough, teal, shelduck and mallards was in the chilly waters. The occasional snipe can also be spotted feeding in the margins, or if you’re really lucky a peregrine swooping in to try its luck on a lapwing, like the above photo taken by regular visitor Ray Watson. Another visitor to the Slough this week was a lone pink-footed goose, although it was with a flock of greylag geese, it was the only pink-footed amongst them. Goosander are also being seen here, but only when they leave in the early morning light, suggesting that they are only roosting here overnight.

Further afield towards the East lakes end of the reserve, Fuller’s mill, Bernard’s, Derek’s and Steggall’s hide and Hawker pool, the wildfowl are doing well here too. Goldeneye are spotted regularly on Hawker pool and wigeon, tufted duck, little egret, little grebe and various geese can always be seen from the hides. Snipe have been coming in close to Steggall’s hide and the otter sightings are still coming in from here too. Obviously, it’s the place to be for this particular otter.

As the light falls away the evening show begins as gulls begin to drift in across the skies from feeding in the fields ready to spend the night roosting on the sailing lake. Here the numbers are in their thousands and look like a spiralling snow storm as the descend onto the lake. Then around 3:30pm, the starlings begin to arrive to begin their aerial dance, swooping back and forth, twisting and turning until, without warning, like flies caught in the vortex of a vacuum cleaner, they funnel down to roost in the reedbeds below. Lackford really is a good place to be at this time of year.