Thursday, 17 January 2013

17th Jan: Cows go home

It seems the period of mild weather is over, with temperatures falling below freezing this week and a fall of snow on the east coast.
Looking more like winter on Holy Island

The snow fell thickest around Goswick

Thanks to the favourable conditions, the cattle have done a great job of trampling Pirri-Pirri and grazing the vegetation (which, in the absence of rabbits, is a valuable part of managing the site) and their work for this season is now done. They were taken off this morning as the weather looks set to worsen over the weekend and into next week. They are going back to John Barber's farm inland where they will calf in March.
The dunes on Holy Island

Rounding up the cattle

Local farmer John Barber with his cows

Three Stooges look on

The Barnacle Geese are still on the Reserve, 140 have been feeding amongst Greylag Geese in the fields near Budle Bay where there is less snow. Earlier in the week we conducted a Whooper Swan count, recording 42 on the Reserve. In the tidal areas there are good numbers of Shelduck, with over 1000 counted across the Reserve on Sunday's WeBS count (the Wetland Bird Survey conducted throughout the UK every month - more information on the BTO web-site). The hide at Fenham-Le-Moor is a good place to go to view them, where they stand out against the dark mud, their red bills and chestnut breast-belts catching the winter sun.
Female Shelduck (John Dunn)

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