As we move further into the spring things certainly get busier on the reserve with more insects emerging, plants coming into flower and birds feeding their young, while spring migration continues to produce the unexpected.
A significant highlight over the past month has been a Spanish wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae), a race of yellow wagtail normally found on the Iberian peninsula which was present from 6/5 to 8/5 and seen mostly around Benarth hide (photo by Levi Gravett). This race is particularly rare in the UK, with no previously accepted records in Wales. The white throat and supercilium distinguish it from other races of yellow wagtail found on the continent, and the blue-grey head also make it distinctive from the race that is normally found in the UK.
Two avocet on 4/5 were another good highlight, following two records from last year which were the first sightings here in over 10 years. Other passage waders included a spotted redshank on 2/5, regular little ringed plover, and small numbers of whimbrel and black-tailed godwit along with occasional dunlin and ringed plover. Several common sandpiper are also being seen regularly around the lagoons.
Other notable summer migrants included another osprey over on 10/5, whinchat on five dates between the end of April and mid May, a female yellow wagtail on 17/5, and wheatear almost daily along the estuary track. Sandwich terns have also continued to feed in the estuary regularly while sand martins have been present over the lagoons in good numbers, occasionally into the hundreds along with dozens of swifts.
Most of the common water bird species can now be seen with young around the lagoons, including little grebe, moorhen, coot, mallard, gadwall and Canada geese. Other notable water bird sightings have included occasional merganser, a species more often seen here in winter with a maximum of five on 30/4, a summering female wigeon, and another sighting of a feral Egyptian goose on 1/5. A count of 203 shelduck on the lagoons and surrounding estuary on 11/5 suggests there are good numbers breeding locally.
Great white egret was also reported on three dates in May, continuing the increasing trend in sightings of this species in the area.
It also seems that otter have been visiting the reserve regularly with four daytime sightings reported between the end of April and mid May. Five noctule bats were recorded feeding over the lagoons on 30/5, and a common lizard was seen on 2/5, a very under recorded species on the reserve with few previous records.
Damselflies have begun to emerge with large red, blue-tailed, azure and common blue all seen since 13/5.
Butterflies have included common blue, with the first recorded on 16/5, and a wall reported on 30/4, a less common species on the reserve. A variety of other species have continued to be seen including orange tip, speckled wood and holly blue. Meanwhile moth trapping took place again on 7/5 with nine species recorded including poplar hawk-moth, small elephant hawk-moth (photo by Jonni Price) and pale prominent.
It’s also just getting to the best time of year to see plants on the reserve with good numbers of southern marsh and bee orchid already coming into flower.
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