I know it’s not a definitive measure of water levels on the reserve, but I haven’t seen it this wet in 10 years. This week has seen almost unremitting rain, with only brief glimmers of sun, gold among the leaden showers. The water levels have risen again (to above my wellies at one point….cold and not fine!) and there were even fewer mallard and teal in this week’s bird count – probably all swimming in the reedbeds! But there were 96 wigeon, which was a bonus, you can never have too many of these lovely ducks. They were one of the first birds I learned to recognise by their yellow foreheads! However, I could hardly get close enough to count them in the usual spot, the water must be at least 2-3 feet deeper than normal there. Trees which normally stand on the loch shore are well in the water right now.
As well as the ducks, there were several cormorants roosting on Castle Island on Loch Kinord. The aren’t, to many people’s eyes, the most attractive birds, but they do have a certain almost prehistoric charm. Youngsters say “just like pterodactyls!” – and they do look a bit odd when they “wing dry” like the bottom bird in the picture. However, this “wing drying” is a bit of a puzzle – like most water birds, cormorants have waterproof feathers so don’t actually need to dry them off. No – one is really sure why they do this but it may be drying, heat regulation or help with digestion!
The wet weather hasn’t stopped the first few signs of spring appearing either. Both great and blue tits scolded me while they were nest prospecting in the woods and the hazel catkins are well out by now. Let’s hope it stops raining by the time spring arrives properly!