Since the last blog in July things have been hotting up on the haugh. The water level is now nice and low which means there is loads of wet mud, just waiting for lots of different kinds of birds to probe for juicy insects.

August, September and October are busy months at the reserve for wading birds in particular because this is when they migrate. Not that waders are the only birds that move around of course; hundreds of millions of animals do it each year, with some travelling tens of thousands of miles to reach the U.K’s shores, often risking their lives in difficult conditions to do so.

Most of the waders we have seen at the reserve in the past few weeks are probably on passage – that is they are stopping off at baron’s haugh to feed and build their energy reserves back up before continuing their journey south where they will spend the winter. It shows how important wetlands are for species such as dunlin, black – tailed godwits and redshank and this is something we are constantly aware of when we are carrying out management of the site.

The highlight of this period has probably been the green sandpipers we have played host to for the past few months. A high count of 11 individuals (hence ‘legs eleven’) was recorded on 2 September and generally the best places to see them from have been the causeway and phoenix hides. Restricted mainly to England and Wales, this is a great species to have at the Haugh.

Photo by Frank Gibbons.

 

Black – tailed godwits are fast becoming one of my favourite waders. They are so elegant! We’ve been lucky enough to have consistent sightings over the past few weeks and on 23 August we had a high count of 22 birds. They are often seen flying around with the flock of lapwing and it is then that their interesting tail shape is clearly visible.

 

Photo by Davie Abraham.

We’ve consistently had a flock of about 140 – 160 lapwing using the muddy edges for quite a few weeks now, although the flock size fluctuates. Yesterday (19 September), I had a count of 192 birds, which is a new record for me. Lapwing really are cracking little birds. More often that not, the flock seem to be just resting, facing into the wind with their heads tucked away. Periodically though, they go on a feeding frenzy, whilst keeping a beady eye out for would be predators.

Photo by Franks Gibbons.


To finish the compliment of waders we were happy to see a ringed plover and a curlew on 20 August as well as a couple of ruff for a few weeks. I think ruff are one of the more difficult waders to identify until you become familiar with them – maybe it’s because they don’t really have any particularly unique features. In addition, we've had a few snipe, but I'm hoping we'll see more over the next few weeks.

 

Snipe by Frank Gibbons.

In anticipation of this modest influx of waders using the marginal areas of the wetland, we went about cutting down some of the reed mace in front of the causeway hide. This hide often gives the best views at this time of year. Before long, my old pal Mr. water rail appeared and gave us a show. There was a high count of 3 individuals recorded on 8 September but I was happy with just the one.

Photo by Frank Gibbons. 

Other notable appearances on the Haugh include 29 little grebe on 30 August, 13 gadwall on 11 September and 7 pintail ducks on 11 September – a first for me on the Haugh. Lastly we had a pretty special visitor on 26 August in the form of a garganey which has been spending some time at Carbarns further up river. I haven’t managed to see it yet but here’s hoping!

Photo by Davie Abraham.

All the best folks, I hope to see you around the reserve sometime.

 

Mark.

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