A Summary of Sightings at Windmill Farm National Nature Reserve

Windmill FarmAnother great year at Windmill Farm! Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the CBWPS continue to provide excellent support to the upkeep, development and regeneration of the farm back to its natural habitat. Windmill Farm is, by design and nature, a boggy environment and heavy rain can cause the footpaths to become muddy – I advise that you always have your wellies with you and if it is particularly boggy/wet you may have to refrain from certain areas of the farm. The trust and helpers try their utmost (with scarce resource) to keep all paths clear at all times but it is not always possible. A big thank you from me – as always if any of you wish to help out please look on the CWT and CBWPS websites for events/dates. Also if you have anything you wish to discuss please contact me, or either of the Boards' of the societies, as we are always happy to listen, engage and discuss.

You may be aware that grants/funding has been approved to restore the Windmill – this work will commence soon. Basically we will have a roof (sympathetic to the original) put on it with an internal staircase leading to a viewing platform. Great views will be available! Onto the report......

We have had 4 new bird species this year - amazing after nothing new in the preceding 2 years! The new species were Lesser Yellowlegs, Red Backed Shrike (2 birds – one in June and another arrived on the 27th Sept and hung around until the 4th Oct), Common Crane and Dotterel (attached photo taken on the airfield adjoining the reserve). Let's hope next year brings some new birds too – surprisingly there are some fairly common species not on the list e.g. Mute Swan!!

Lesser Yellowlegs

Red Backed Shrike
 Lesser Yellowlegs   Red Backed Shrike

Autumn passage was quieter than previous years (or maybe just less visitors?). Whinchats (max count of 9 on 20th Sept) and Wheatears continued to pass through in small numbers in Sept and early Oct with the odd Green Sandpiper putting in a skittish appearance. 3 Spotted Flys were recorded on 6th Sept. The first of our over wintering/perhaps passage Jack Snipe was flushed on the 20th Sept – if you want to see a Jack Snipe you need to walk around the margins of the pools! The fairly resident 3rd year Marsh Harrier returned (after his summer holidays) on the 20th Sept and has been seen a few times since. The last record of Hobby was on the 24th Sept and also a Water Rail was heard that day. Since the 28th Sept there have been up to 3 Teal frequenting the reserve – Teal are rare on the reserve these days – in fact other than Mallard all duck species are declining probably due to the mild winters. Since mid-Oct we have also had a visiting Little Grebe – again a rare record for the reserve. The second week in Nov saw large movements of Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtails and the arrival of Golden Plover (on the airfield). The first Woodcock was recorded on the 16th Nov. Winter raptors are back – Merlin and Hen Harrier on the 26th Nov – Short Eared Owl as yet. 2 Lapland Buntings flew over on the 30th Nov.
The arable field (second compartment on the left (south) of the car park) is holding a large flock of Chaffinch, Pipits and Reed Buntings – it is worth ten minutes down there looking through the flock.

Away from birds we have had another great year for Dragonflies with Red Veined Darters breeding in good numbers and mating Lesser Emperors. It has been a good year for butterflies too – a few records of Marsh Frit and lots of migrant Clouded Yellows. This year has been excellent for Adders – first record on the 8th March and last in late October – I still look for them on sunny days now. My aim is to find one in January! I have found them in February before. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.