Its been a pretty full on last few days here on the Sands with some excellent birding as August passes into September, and right at the last the tides relented and allowed us to get a little bit of water onto some of the lagoons that will help us last through to the end of the month and attract any passing waifs and strays. Marshland hide was looking particularly good this afternoon with over 10 species of wader plus a lovely garganey.
Marshland looking good for the early September wader passage after this mornings tides.
Waders have been very much top of the bill but there has also been some notable sightings including osprey, great-white egret, 5 spoonbills, hobby, up to 3 whinchats and of course our female Montagu's harrier that shows best when she comes into roost between 6.30 and 7.45pm. Also amazingly early were our first pink footed geese of the year - it seems an early arrival has been noted all across northern UK, it will be very interesting to see if anyone knows why?
Montagu's harrier coming into roost
Osprey flying high over the reserve - by Mike Booth
The waders have been pretty good with an amazing peak of 97 curlew (curlew is classed as near threatened globally) roosting in the evening on Marshland being one of my highlights, also of note has been peaks of 29 spotted redshank, 56 ruff and over 50 redshank, then add in 50+ black-tailed godwits, avocets, dunlin, ringed plover, bar-tailed godwit, turnstone, ringed and little ringed plover, lapwings, golden plover, snipe, green sandpiper, greenshank, whimbrel, knot and then up to two curlew sandpipers (unfortunatly not seen today) then its been pretty damn good all round.
Its been an amazing year for knot records with multiple sightings including some quite large groups, we only usually get two or three sightings a year so there is certainly something odd this year to bring so many birds up to feed on the reserve.
Juvenile Knot on Marshland today - has it been a good breeding season for this species?
Roosting curlew from last night
Birds of prey have been active with plenty of marsh harriers about but also a passage of buzzards, osprey, peregrine, hobby, Montagu's harrier, sparrowhawk, kestrel, so keep an eye on the sky as you never know whats passing or hunting over the reserve.
Kestrel with a very large vole
There's also been the odd pintail still moving west as long as said earlier the very early arrival of the pink-footed geese (normally about mid September), garganey and then over 1000 greylag geese feeding in fields near the reserve. Also on the lagoons are plenty of teal, gadwall, shoveler, mallard and a few tufted duck and wigeon if you can sort through the brown jobs.
Garganey on Marshland today
Good to see the spoonbills still calling in from time to time with a peak of five birds using Ousefleet lagoon along with a few fine looking little egrets. Also look out for our numerous water rails around the edges of the lagoons, little grebes and a few bearded tits if you are lucky.
Spoonbills on Ousefleet lagoon
And one scoffing a fish - how they love the sticklebacks!
Some of the little egrets still have their summer plumes
Also enjoying the food!
The smaller birds have also been quite notable recently as migrants push south and resident birds emerge from the moult period. Most notable has been over 50 yellow wagtails around the livestock and then up to 3 whinchat and 3 stonechat out on the grazing marsh. Quite a heavy passage of late willow warblers but also a few reed warblers and whitethroats about site.
Yellow wagtails - they come in all shades and plumage at this time of year, enjoy them before they go back to Africa
Whichats - great to have them about after a a total absence of spring records this year
I suspect there are a few more about site as birds have been seen from the hides and on the grazing marsh
Lovely to have a few stonechats around too
Its also nice to look at some of our resident species - many seem to have had a good breeding season
Juvenile song thrush
Nice to see this wood mouse on the footpath recently but plenty of other mammals, insects and flowers and reserve management to talk about but unfortunately not got much time on this blog, maybe later in the week!
I'll leave you with one or two curlew pictures - great to sit and watch them coming into roost and listening to their guttural contact calls.
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