Great white egrets have remained one of the highlights on the reserve once again over the past month with a peak of six birds present together on the shallow lagoon on 13/9 and typically three or four birds seen on most days, generally moving between the estuary and the lagoons depending on the tide (photo by Mel Hughes). It’s almost three months now since the first bird turned up here so this is certainly the longest duration that this species has spent on the reserve, and the numbers seen reflect the significant population increase that has occurred in the UK in recent years.
Meanwhile autumn migration has continued to produce a good variety of species, while winter birds are also starting to move in. Waders have included spotted redshank on most days with a peak of four on 25/9, regular curlew sandpiper with a maximum of two birds present on both 14/9 and 19/9, and little stint on 25/9. Garganey have been present since 8/9, with at least one bird seen throughout and two birds confirmed on 10/9. A yellow wagtail was feeding around the ponies and along the estuary track from 1/9 to 2/9 and a short-eared owl on 23/9 was another good record for the reserve. The first firecrest of the winter was seen on 12/9, with more regular sightings since 24/9 in the usual areas around the trails leading to the Tal y Fan hide and Bridge pond.
A variety of other wading birds have also been present with notable species including golden plover on 16/9 and grey plover on 12/9 and 26/9, both of which are scarce on the reserve. Bar-tailed godwits peaked at five on 26/9 which is a good number for the site, while a single black-tailed godwit has been constantly present. Greenshank have also been seen regularly with a maximum of seven on 19/9, along with occasional knot, ringed plover and regular dunlin. Whimbrel were still seen moving through earlier in the month with the last one recorded on 13/9.
Numbers of wildfowl have been increasing significantly as we move further towards winter, with 70 wigeon and 182 teal recorded on the monthly WeBS count on 20/9. At least six shoveler are also now present on the shallow lagoon, and a pochard was seen on 7/9. Sightings of merganser and goosander have also become more frequent with small groups of these species seen on the estuary in recent weeks and a juvenile great crested grebe was on the lagoons on 5/9 and again on 20/9. Sightings of kingfisher and water rail have continued to be fairly regular.
Other notable birds have included wheatear seen on 3/9, 21/9 and 23/9, while up to three Cetti’s warbler and at least four stonechat have been present around the reserve. Most of the summer migrants have now left although several chiffchaff still remain, some of which may spend the winter here. The first chough of the winter season were recorded on 22/9 with two birds overhead as they move between their roost sights on the Great Orme and Little Orme, and their suspected feeding areas in the Conwy valley.
The warmer days have continued to produce insect sightings with dragonflies including southern hawker, emperor and common darter regularly, and migrant hawker seen on 15/9. Butterflies have included regular small tortoiseshell, red admiral, speckled wood and meadow brown, while comma was seen on 15/9 and small copper on 21/9.
Mammal sightings have included regular foxes and a polecat on 22/9.
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