Sightings

Key monthly wildlife sightings. Contact us if you have discovered anything unusual or rare when you visited Watchtree. also let us have photographs of your sightings.

Starlings

We're getting lots of enquiries about our Starlings at the moment, however at the moment we have had very little sightings. Early November we had a few thousand murmuring and numbers did start to build but have since disappeared. The reason for there disappearance is unknown, it could be to do with predators or they've simply found a better roost! It is still very early in the season for Starlings so hopefully we will see them again soon. Check back here for more updates. Updated 29/11/2017: We are seeing good numbers of Starlings through the day but no murmurations yet!

2017

Winter

Watchtree in Winter   Before I’d even got to the hide there was a chirruping in the bushes and I turned to see a group of juvenile yellowhammers mobbing their parents, hopping between branches for attention. Three birds flew past overhead and I caught the triangular shape of starling wings as they soared over me. The wetland hide was quiet – a pair of mallards floated in circles on the far side, while mute swans waddled along the bank. Once I was settled inside, they appeared by the feeders, accompanied by the juvenile swans I’d seen last time. The whole family loitered beneath the swinging seed canisters, mopping up anything dropped. The feeders themselves were a flurry of activity. As usual, the nearby bushes were full of house sparrows, fighting to snatch a mouthful. Blue tits and great tits waited in the queue and I was particularly excited to see a lone greenfinch among the group too; back home in Hertfordshire these birds are becoming scarcer and scarcer. After watching the birds feed for a while, I wandered on. It was a lot colder than usual – dew covered the grass but it wasn’t quite cold enough to freeze it, though perhaps this may soon be the case on early mornings. There were other signs of winter too; bursts of red berries and a fat robin perched on the fence. Even though these birds are around all year, somehow a day in early winter feels like Christmas is a lot closer when you spot one. As I made my way to the wood the only sound was the usual “whizz-burr” of the turbines as they swung. There was a break in the clouds and beautiful streaks of sunlight shone through at jaunty angles. The forest was gloomy but still inviting, and as I walked round I scanned both sides of the path to see if any fungi were sprouting up. The ground was boggy in places, and when drops of water fell in the puddles, the reflected trees twitched. Suddenly, just as I was looping back round to the gate, a woodpigeon exploded out of the trees and made me jump a mile. Why do pigeons love doing this? It must give them a wicked satisfaction to see me clutch my chest and try to get my breath back to normal. Once I was back in the open, the chill was even stronger. I wrapped my coat tighter around myself and hurried back to the cafe to warm up. Rebecca Gibson On the Wing Website: http://rebeccaonthewing.com

September

Watchtree Blog Post   As soon as I shut the car door, a strong breeze made me zip up my coat. Despite the wind that was sending the turbines spinning, the sunshine and lights clouds looked promising. I hired a bike and set off through the reserve, taking a leisurely ride away from the hubbub of the café and car park to the quieter open fields and woodland. The lake was fairly busy. A pair of Mute Swans and their two cygnets glided silently to and fro in one corner, shaking heads and rustling feathers. The youngsters were almost fully grown, their juvenile grey foliage blending to pristine adult white. When one stretched its wings, bright white armpits showed. Elsewhere on the lake, three Tufted Ducks were feeding, golden eyes blinking as they came up for air. A lone Little Grebe dived under the water and popped up again several metres away. As agile as a fish, the tiny bird curled its body and slipped silently beneath the surface. Suddenly, as I was scanning the feeders for any birds joining the Tree Sparrows already tucking into the feast, my eye caught on a brown shape nestled amongst the grass. From my vantage point on the top storey of the hide I could see the Brown Hare perfectly as it chewed, hunkered down. I’d never seen a hare so close and it was beautiful, with rich, brown streaked fur and piercing eyes. Its ears were pinned tightly to its nape, in an attempt to remain as inconspicuous as possible, but the creature was still brave enough to forage out of the cover of the long grass. I watched it for a few minutes, before it turned and hopped back into the grass. After waiting a while to see if it would re-emerge any closer, I accepted the hare was long gone. Leaving the lake behind, I looped around the reserve and cycled back through the woods. Once again, I was distracted by fungi, and abandoned the bike while I crawled around on the forest floor with my camera. Today, as always, there was plenty to see. A huge troop of Stump Puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme, the only British Lycoperdon to grow exclusively on wood) stood to attention on a fallen log, their portly bodies stood side by side. The delicate Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) stretched out of the wood, tiny black spindles dipped in white. Just as I had finally put away my camera and climbed back on the bike, I was greeted by three Shaggy Inkcaps (Coprinus comatus) stood on either side of the path like security guards. I hadn’t seen this fungus since autumn last year so it was a treat to photograph them again, and provided a satisfying end to my cycle in the woods.   Rebecca Gibson On the Wing Website: http://rebeccaonthewing.com

2016

December

Mute Swans -  Teal - Golden Eye - Tufted Duck - Mallard - Gadwall - Moorhen - Chaffinch - Jay - Bullfinch - Kestral - Buzzard - Robin - Blackbird - Blue Tits - Great Tits -  Roe Deer - Hare - Yellowhammers - Greenfinch - Nuthatch - Sparrow

November

12,000 Starlings - Blackbird -Wren - Tree Sparrow (20+) - Yellowhammer (4) - Buzzards - Blue tits - Carrion Crow (32 watching Buzzard Catch) - Robins - Moorhen (6) - Mallard (7) - Tufted Duck (3) - Great tit - little Grebe - Gadwal - Bullfinch - Goldfinch - Jay - Woodpecker - Fieldfare - Snipe (18) - Siskin - Roe Deer - Hen Harrier - Greenfinch - Kestral - Brown Hare - Chaffinch - Reed Bunting - Yellow Browed Warbler - Dunnock.    

October

Swans & Cygnets - Blackbird -Roe Deer - Wren - Tree Sparrow - Great Tit - Grey Partridge - Snipe - Yellowhammer - Mallard  -Buzzards - Blue tits - - Robin - Moorhen  - Mallard - Great tit - little Grebe - Bullfinch - Goldfinch - Jay - Woodpecker -  Siskin -  Greenfinch - Kestral - Brown Hare - Tufted Duck  - Gadwal      

September

Swans & Cygnets - Kestrel - Roe Deer - Peacock Butterfly - Small Copper Butterfly - Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly - Little Grebe & 2 Young - Mallard - Swallow - Teal - Moorhen - Black Headed Gull - Herringull - Lesser Black Backed Gull - Tree Sparrow - Great Tit - Grey Partridge - Snipe - Common Darter - Emerald Damselfly - Meadow Pipit - Bank Vole - Southern Hawker Dragonfly - Wheatear - Jay - Goldcrest - Coal Tit - Song Thrush -  Common Chiffchaff

August

Cygnets and Swans - Roe Deer - Peacock Butterfly - Red Fox - Small Copper Butterfly - Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly - Painted Lady Butterfly - Red Admiral Butterfly - Speckled Wood Butterfly - Skylark - Kestrel - Great Tit - Long tailed Tit - Wheatear - Willow Warbler - Azure Damselfly

July

Six spot Burnet Moth & Caterpillar - Emperor Dragonfly - Roebuck - Swans and Cygnets - Curlew - Oyster Catchers - Swallows - House Martins - Common Blue Damselfly - Common Blue Butterfly - Azure Damselfly - Orange Tip Butterfly - Meadow Brown Butterfly - Blue Tail Damselfly - Emerald Damselfly - Large Skipper - Kestrel - Roe Deer - Brown Hare - Poplar Hawk Moth - Garden Tiger Moth - Honeysuckle in Flower (Pow Wood)

June

Emperor Dragonfly - 6 Spot Burnet Moth & Caterpillar - Mute Swans and cygnets - Curlew - Oyster Catchers - Swallows - House Martins - Common Blue Damselfly - Common Blue Butterfly - Azure Damselfly - Orange Tip Butterfly - Meadow Brown Butterfly - Blue Tailed Damselfly

May

Spotted Flycatcher - Sedge Warbler - Reed Warbler - Garden Warbler - Willow Warbler - White Throat - Blackcap - Chiff Chaff - Longtailed Tit - Oyster Catcher - Curlew - Whimbrel - Greenland Wheatear - Redpoll - Swallows - Wheatear - Song Thrush - Orange Tip Butterfly - Dingy Skipper - Large Red Damselfly - Azure Damselfly - Wall Brown Speckled Wood Butterfly (new to the area) -  Great Crested Newt - 3 Mute Swan Cygnets -

April

Wheatear - Curlew pairs - Oyster Catcher pairs - Mute Swans nesting - Song Thrush - Skylarks - Frog Spawn - Chiff Chaff - Tree Sparrows - Great Spotted Woodpeckers - Pied Wagtail - Reed Bunting - Nuthatch - Hares (look out for them boxing) - Great Crested Newt - Tufted Ducks - Golden Eye - Barn Owl - Redpoll - Willow Warbler - Goldfinch

March

Bank Vole - Yellow Hammer - Kestrel - Barn Owl - Curlew - Mute Swans - Nuthatch - Skylarks - Oyster Catcher - Great Spotted Woodpecker - Chiff Chaff - Tufted Duck - Golden Eye - Barn Owl - Brown Hares - Roe Deer - Toads - Frog Spawn - Female Goshawk - Gadwall - Teal - Swallow

February

Stock dove - Lesser Red Poll - Great Spotted Woodpecker - Little Grebe - Reed Bunting - Mute Swans - Kestrel - Teal - Golden Eye - Tufted Duck - Mallard Duck - Gadwall - Moorhen - Tree Sparrow - Chaffinch - Blue Tit - Great Tit - Coal Tit - Long Tailed Tit - Jay - Bullfinch - Kestrel - Buzzard - Robin - Blackbird - Nuthatch - Tree Creeper - Yellow Hammer - Roe Deer - Hare - Barn Owl - Red Squirrel

January

Stock dove - Lesser Red Poll - Great Spotted Woodpecker - Little Grebe - Reed Bunting - Mute Swans - Kestrel - Teal - Golden Eye - Tufted Duck - Mallard Duck - Gadwall - Moorhen - Tree Sparrow - Chaffinch - Blue Tit - Great Tit - Coal Tit - Long Tailed Tit - Jay - Bullfinch - Kestrel - Buzzard - Robin - Blackbird - Nuthatch - Tree Creeper - Yellow Hammer - Roe Deer - Hare

2015

December

Mute Swans (5) - Lots of Teal (100) - Golden Eye (18) - Tufted Duck - Mallard - Gadwall - Moorhen - Tree Sparrow - Chaffinch - Jay - Bullfinch - Kestral - Buzzard - Robin - Blackbird - Blue, Great, Coal, Long Tailed, Tits - Roe Deer - Hare - Yellowhammers - Greenfinch - Nuthatch -

November

Starling murmarations numbers around 4 to 5 thousand (however not as Spectacular as last year)

October

Visitors - If you see any good sightings...Please report them to a member of staff with     Date - Time - Location  OTTER (Sunday 18th on the main lake) - Brown Hare - Roe Deer -Common Crane flyover - Redshank -Nuthatch - Mute Swans - Teal - Mallard - Goldfinch flocks - Little Grebe - Moorhen - Pink footed geese flyover - Stonechat - Partridge - On sunny days Common Darter dragonflies - Red Admiral -Lots of varieties of Fungi    

September

Large flocks of Goldfinch (est 250+) - Willow Warbler & Chiffchaff still around 14/09/2015, other summer visitors now seem to have gone. - A Covey of 9 or 10 Grey Partridge common sighting at present in the garden area. - Lots of Meadow Pipits passing through - On sunny days Common Darter dragonflies - Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortishell Butterflies - IF you see any Wall Butterfly let us know. Lots of Bees and Hoverflies on the blue Scabious flowers - Visitors - If you see any good sightings...Please report them to a member of staff with     Date - Time - Location   

August

Butterflies / Moths / Damselfly

Meadow Brown - Small Skipper - Small Tortoish - Common Hawker -

Antler Moth - Bulrush Wainscot Moth - Burnished Brass Moth - Centre-barred Sallow Moth - Chinese Character Moth - Coxcomb Prominent Moth - Drinker Moth - Northern Eggar Moth - Orange Swift Moth - Ruby Tiger Moth - True Lover's Knot Moth - Yellow-tail Moth -

Azure Damselfly - Large Blue damselfly - Common Darter - Emerald Damselfly

Birds

Flocks of Linnet & Goldfinch - Sedge Warbler - Reed Warbler - Willow Warbler -Barn Owl - Swallows - Tree Sparrow - Great Tit - Blue Tit - Coal Tit - Bullfinch - Little Grebe with Chicks - House Martins -

Mammals

Hare -Roe Deer - Stoat - Hedghog

July

Butterflies / Moths / Damselfly

Painted Lady -Small Yellow Underwing - Latticed Heath - Six-spot Burnets - Five-spot Burnets - Cinnabar moths -  Small Skipper - Blue Tailed Damselfly -Emerald Damselfly, Dingy Shell moth (an uncommon species in Cumbria, only 3 previous records in 2013) Mompha propinquella (only the second record of this species in north Cumbria, the first record being in 2013) Magpie - Garden Tiger - Large Emeralds - Minor Shoulder-knot - Shaded Broad-bar

Breeding Birds

Oystercatchers -Curlew - Tree Creeper -Song Thrushes-Great Tits - Willow Warblers - Swallows- Spotted Flycatchers  Blackcaps - Garden Warblers - Sedge Warblers -Linnet - Tree Sparrow-Tawny Owl

Mammals

Roe Deer - Stoat - Hare

June

Butterflies / Moths

Small Yellow Underwing -  Four Spotted Chasers - Orange Tip - Dingy Skipper

Breeding Birds

Willow Warbler - Chaffinch - Chiffchaff - Blackcap - Garden Warbler - Sedge Warbler - Swallow - Little Grebe - Coot - Moorhen - Mallard - Reed Warbler - Reed Bunting - Tree Sparrow - Song Thrush - Blackbird - Skylark - Oyster Catcher - Tree Sparrow - Robin - Wren - Blue Tit - Coal Tit - Great Tit - Tree Creeper - Dunnock - Great spotted Woodpecker - Linnet - Lesser Red Poll - Tawny Owl - Long Tailed Tit - Jay - Crow - Stock Dove - Whitethroat -

Mammals

Roe Deer - Stoat - Hare

May

Pied Warbler -Spotted Fly Catcher -Sparrow Hawk -Black Cap -Grey Partridge -Breeding Tawny Owls - Garden Warbler -Skylarks - Swallows - Sandmartins - Wimbrel - Curlew - Tree Sparrow - Song Thrush - Oyster Catcher - Jay - Roe Deer - Brown hare - Linnet - Dunnock - Goldfinch - Coot - Moorhen - Little Grebe -Great tit - Long Tailed tit -

April

Whitethroat -  Grasshopper Warbler - Great Tits - Willow Warbler- 1st Swallow - Skylark - Wheatear -Roe Deer -Reed Bunting - Dunnock - Golden Eye - Fox - Hare - Pied Wagtail - Meadow Pippit - Song Thrush - Barn Owl -Lesser Redpoll - Blackcap - Garden Warbler - Sedge Warbler- Song Thrush &  Long tailed Tit with eggs - Chiffchaff  - Blackcap - Peacock,Small Tortoiseshell,Red Admiral butterflies - - 1st Orange Underwing moth for the reserve -  

March

Peacock Butterfly, Lots of Frog Spawn,..Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Long Tailed Tit, Chiffchaff,Woodpeckers, Rooks, Roe Deer,Tree Sparrow,Yellow Hamer, Skylark, Curlew, Blackbird, Robin,Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Snipe, Kestral, Barn Owl, Little Grebe, Teal, Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swan, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Tufted Duck, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Hare, Golden Eye, Dunnock, Stock Dove

Feb

10th Feb - Skylark dominating the soundwaves! 11th Feb - waders return! 3 Curlew and 1 Oystercatcher join our 25+ Lapwing and many Snipe. 12th Feb - Song Thrush singing first thing 16th Feb - 2 x Red Fox (following each other), Goldcrest, Treecreeper, 20+ lapwing roosting on site. Gadwall, Goldeneye, Teal, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Snipe, Mallard, Moorhen Lapwing, Golden Plover, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Great spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl,   Brown Hare, Roe Deer, Weasel, Bank Vole, Field Vole, Wood Mouse, Grey Squirrel

January

Goldeneye male and female (male displaying), Long-tailed tit, Brown Hare, Roe Deer, Redpoll, Great spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Barn Owl (2 on same night 6th Jan)

2014

December

Woodcock, Starling roosts (up to 20,000) Snipe, Lapwing (up to 25), Mute Swan (up to 7), Golden Plover (200+) Redpoll, Long-tailed Tit, Gadwall, Teal, Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl, Buzzard. Brown Hare, Roe Deer, Stoat, various small mammals inc Common Shrew, Wood Mouse, Bank Vole and Field Vole.

November

A new bird for the Reserve, a Water Rail it takes our species list to 113 since the Reserve was created in 2002 - Spectacular Starling murmarations - 22 Lapwings close to the wetlands hide - 4 Mute Swans -  Fieldfare - Sparrowhawk - Goldcrest - large flocks of Redpoll - Fox -

July

Teal and Snipe return. Reed Warbler breeding x 2. Bullfinch in good numbers. Less Reed Bunting than previous years. Otter evidence in various locations (spraints). Wheatear (Sept).

April

Gadwall Otter, Woodcock, Roe Deer now v common in Pond Wood, Regular sightings of Barn Owl in Jan/Feb. Daily sighting on Stoat…one day seen chasing a leveret in front of office – next day seen dragging leveret back to den.

2013

October

Ringed Plover (feeding in puddle near centre) Tim L, Otter Frank M, Redstart, Wheatear. Moths. Zeiraphera isertana, Agonopterix nervosa, Currant Pug and Minor Shoulder-knot (Liz S)

January

Regular sightings of Barn Owl. Woodcock sighted occasionally, Six Roe Deer sighted in pond wood. Regular sightings of Grey Partridge. Six Mute Swans coming and going. Starling roosts (1-2000) birds in late November/early December. Regular sightings of the Stoat near visitor centre. Heron sighted regularly in December. Good numbers of Snipe in wetter fields and margins