Currently, fantastic views of goldcrest (Regulus regulus) can be see through the window of the Visitor Centre at Risley Moss. I was there on Thursday and a pair were flitting around the buddlleia and again this morning (Sunday). With a bit of patience they will appear. Other notables on the bird feeder outside the window include great tit, blue tit and coal tit with willow tit too. A great spotted wood pecker is using the feeder as well as some rather fat squirrels and a wood pigeon. Dunnock, robin and blackbird also used it this morning.
As winter starts to get a grip, the feeding station at the Woodland Hide really becomes a great place to visit. The best time is after a hard frost (even better if there is snow) because this makes natural food even harder to find and hence there is greater reliance on the food provided.
Over the years, over 40 bird species have been seen at the Woodland Hide; usually there are about 30 species seen each year by regular visitors. It is quite common to see 15 species in half an hour; the current ‘record’ is 20, but you could beat that if you are lucky. Although some species are those you can see in your own garden, you will be unlucky if you do not see Nuthatch, Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker in a half hour visit.
Because they get used to the food put out by Rangers and to the number of visitors, the birds are not usually disturbed people being in the Hide if you are quiet. This makes them comparatively easy to photograph, and a great place to practice taking wildlife photographs if you are lucky enough to receive a camera for Christmas. However, the birds are still vigilant against potential attack by the local Sparrowhawk and will scatter if they are alarmed.
All of the food at the Woodland Hide is sponsored by RIMAG at a cost of around £500 each year; there is a donation box in the Visitor Centre if you have enjoyed your visit and would like to make a contribution towards it.
As you walk around the site you can occasionally hear and see flocks of small birds feeding. These are usually referred to as ’tit parties’ because they often include the five species of tits that are resident at Risley Moss. It is always worthwhile looking over these groups because they can also include more unusual species such as Goldcrest (the smallest UK bird), Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. In fact there have been some great viewings of goldcrest on the buddleia just outside the window of the Visitor Centre.
The Work Day for 29/11/15 has been cancelled
The event has been cancelled because of expected bad weather, which will require Mark to be instantly available in case there is any wind damage.
Although there are fewer birds around Risley Moss now than there were in summer, they are much easier to see now that the trees are losing their leaves and easy food supplies are becoming scarcer. As a result, on a typical day, you can easily see around 20 species either on or flying over the reserve as you walk around.
One spectacular sight to look out for is one of the large flocks of geese that fly over the Reserve at this time of year. If they are in flocks of up to 30, not very high up and ‘honking’ like farmyard geese, they will probably be Canada Geese. If they are in flocks of over 50 (sometimes there can be hundreds!), flying high up and ‘gabbling’, they will probably be Pink-footed Geese on their way to their over-wintering grounds in the Southern UK and northern Europe.
If you want to get a close-up view of birds (particularly to photograph them), then the Woodland Hide is well worth a visit. The Rangers have started to put out bird food onto the ‘squirrel resistant’ feeders but it will take some time for the birds to get fully used to it and while there is still ‘natural’ food around. The feeding station really becomes important to the birds when the weather becomes colder and natural food becomes scarcer.
All of the food at the Woodland Hide is sponsored by RIMAG at a cost of around £500 each year; there is a donation box in the Visitor Centre if you would like to make a contribution towards it. You can also help birds by having a feeding station in your own garden. There is a public event on 15 November (11:00 – 13:00) at the Visitor Centre to make a feeder to take home. The event is free, but RIMAG would appreciate a donation towards materials cost to help us fund future events.
There are still quite a lot of fungi around the site both on trees and on the ground. One common species is the Jew’s Ear fungus that grows specifically on dead Elderberry trees. There are some good examples on the right side of the slope on the path to the Tower.