With the reserve trails having reopened to the public on 8/7, we've been fortunate to have had the daily presence of great white egrets for several weeks running (library image by Simon Knight). The first appeared on 28/6 and was joined by a second bird on 13/7 with the two both being present since, and mostly feeding and roosting around the shallow lagoon. A third bird was also reported on the estuary on 18/7. Although there have been fairly regular sightings of this species making fleeting visits to the reserve over the past few years, these are the first long staying birds we've had since summer 2016 so it's great that many of the visitors we've welcomed back to the reserve so far have been able to see them.
Other highlights have included some very unseasonal visitors normally seen over the winter season including a whooper swan which was briefly present on the deep lagoon on 25/6, and a male scaup which was present from 9/7 up until at least 16/7 moving between the deep lagoon and estuary.
An interesting variety of other wildfowl has also been recorded including three pochard on 13/7 with one bird remaining until 16/7, a shoveler on 16/7, single mergansers on 8/7 and 16/7 and steadily increasing numbers of teal, while a male wigeon with a damaged wing has remained on the reserve since the winter. One gadwall brood has been seen so far with three ducklings, while evidence of breeding tufted duck still remains to be seen this year although there are many birds still present. A black swan has been in the Conwy area recently and was seen here on the estuary on 9/7 and 12/7. This species is native to Australia and is not known to have established any self-sustaining feral populations in the UK so any birds seen here are likely to be escapees directly from captivity.
Up to six great crested grebe were present on several days in early July which is a good number for the reserve, while a kingfisher has suddenly become very active with sightings almost daily since 7/7 mostly around the deep lagoon and bridge pond. Water rails typically arrive back on the reserve around mid-July and spend the winter season here, with the first returning bird seen this year on 18/7.
Autumn wader passage has been getting well under way with numbers of curlew and redshank gradually building up throughout the month well into the hundreds. Black-tailed godwits have been present almost daily with maximum counts of 18 on both 9/7 and 19/7 with all birds still in summer plumage. Greenshank have been present again since 15/7 with a peak so far of 5 on 18/7, while single knot were seen on 26/6 and 9/7, and whimbrel have also been on the move with small numbers of birds recorded daily since 15/7. Nine snipe seen on 15/7 may have been birds passing through, or possibly the first early arrivals of the winter season. Dunlin have also been present in small numbers and at least one common sandpiper still remains around the deep lagoon.
Single Mediterranean gulls were seen on 8/7 and 15/7 among the large flocks of black-headed gulls which have now built up to around 500 birds.
Lesser redpoll sightings have also been of interest, a fairly scarce bird on the reserve more often seen here during the winter, with individual birds recorded flying over and calling on four dates between 8/7 and 16/7.
Warblers are still very much active with some birds still singing and parties of fledglings often seen, in particular, reed and sedge warblers, chiffchaffs and common whitethroats have been most noticeable recently.
Meanwhile the warmer and sunnier days have continued to produce good sightings of invertebrates with the emergence and steady increase in numbers of gatekeeper butterflies (photo by Jon Ward) and six-spot burnet moths in recent weeks. Other notable insects include good numbers of meadow browns, along with small heath, ringlet and common blue butterflies, shaded broad-bar moths and southern hawker, common darter and emperor dragonflies.
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