Doleham

6th December 2009, Sunday


Thanks to the exceptional rainfall, much of the upper Brede Valley is flooded, but often it seems only Black-headed Gulls are attracted to the giant puddles.
At Doleham however, where management work has provided a mosaic of open water and concealing reeds, hundreds of ducks have taken up residence.
As always, it’s difficult to get an accurate count (thanks to those same usefully concealing reeds) but on Thursday I reckoned there were 300 Teal, 100 Mallard, 80 Gadwall, 50 each of Shoveler & Wigeon and 4 Tufted Ducks.


Overhead, there was a Buzzard & m Marsh Harrier.
Counts since suggest even higher numbers of Wigeon and a pair of harriers.
Oddly, there were no Herons or Snipe, and I saw just 1 Moorhen but 70+ Pied & 2 Grey Wagtails were tiptoeing across the floodside flotsam, 50+ Meadow Pipits picking along the line of debris and 2/3 Water Pipits squeaking overhead, landing as always in inaccessible spots.
Around the edges there were high numbers of Blackbirds and Dunnocks – a situation reflected in other areas I’ve looked at this week and mixed groups of small birds were using the cover of the reedy ditches to effect a clandestine crossing of the open valley floor. At one point I could see about 25 Blue Tits tumbling northwards along one such safe route.