What with all the rain recently and it being in the middle of the breeding season it seems very much like there's the usual mid-June madness of a typical British summer. What was a little more unexpected though was the arrival of a superb adult purple heron that was found by our regular volunteer Chris while he was surveying the bitterns. Its the first reserve record for 30 years!

Here's a picture and superb video from Mike our Warden of it on Townend lagoon eating sticklebacks! 

It went into the reedbed yesterday afternoon and didn't show but this morning I had it briefly flying from one part of Singleton to another. Lets hope it stays for our summer open day on Sunday!

And despite the inclement weather there has been some absolutely banging birding and general wildlife watching on site this week. 

It seems that although summer feels like its over the cuckoo may disagree with it showing pretty well and singing throughout and actually sitting in a tree this morning right in front of reception hide. Here's a few snaps

It seems large fish eating birds are the order of the day at the moment with regular fly over spoonbills and also daily sightings of bitterns including a bit of renewed grunting by a male. Add in a few little egrets and grey herons plus now the odd cormorant and that very much gives you a feel of what the reserve is like at the moment. 

Male bittern

Interestingly after my last blog the first green sandpiper of the 'autumn' wader return arrived back onto first lagoon while the first three curlews went west on their moult migration mid week, again probably fresh in from Scandinavia. A few other waders include oystercatcher, lapwings and this morning three avocets.

Plenty of amazing marsh harrier activity on site with the adults busy feeding growing young, so plenty of food passes and amazing close views of hunting birds around site. Barn owls too are showing well but this is probably because they are desperate for some better hunting weather so they can feed their young, this morning the male and female from the Marshland nestbox were really looking wet and sorry for themselves as they tried to hunt over the grazing marsh.

Female with food - looks like it was an adult gull 

Hunting male 

Female barn owl from this morning, female have browner fronts

Most notable of the wildfowl have been four male wigeon alongside the gadwall, tufted ducks, shelduck and mallards while it seems the five mute swan chicks are still doing well on Singleton. Good to see the adults stirring up the sediment yesterday releasing food for the young to eat. 

Plenty of bearded tits are around the edges of the lagoons and were very noticeable as I scanned the reedbed for the purple heron yesterday evening and this morning, also plenty of Cettis warblers showing, a few yellow wagtails about the grazing marsh alongside skylarks and meadow pipits, sedge and reed warblers, blackcaps and whitethroats all feeding young so plenty to see around the bushes and reedbed trails. 

Most notable mammals have been the three otters on Singleton, and adult female and too youngsters, interestingly they didn't seem to create too much excitement as people were watching for the heron.

Otters on Singleton

Nice to see that the rain has benefited something with a good emergence of some lovely mid summer fungi

See you at the open day for hopefully some good weather!

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