The summer migrants have really started to roll in over the last few weeks with all the regular species now recorded along with one or two unexpected highlights.
A black redstart on 13/4 was perhaps the most interesting sighting being only the third record for the reserve and the first in almost 12 years, seen by several visitors around the far end of the river Ganol. Some other passerines of particular interest have included a male whinchat on 25/4, two male yellow wagtails on 27/4 (photo by Marc Hughes), common redstart on several dates and grasshopper warbler which has been singing regularly on the estuary embankment over the past week. An osprey was over the estuary on 26/4, while spotted redshank have made regular appearances with a maximum of two birds present on several days around early-mid April. A great white egret in full breeding plumage was present on 24/4 raising the possibility that this species may be starting to breed more locally. Meanwhile several species hung on from the winter including three scaup, two of which were long staying through most of the winter, finally departing on 14/4, while more unexpectedly a first winter Iceland gull was present on the deep lagoon on 31/3, the first record since March 2017. An adult yellow-legged gull also made an appearance on 21/4.
All of our expected breeding warblers are now back with the first sedge warbler returning on 13/4, common whitethroat on 16/4, reed warbler on 17/4, lesser whitethroat on 21/4 and garden warbler on 27/4 joining the other species already present. Hirundines have also been building in number with swallows present since 30/3 and house martins since 10/4 joining the large numbers of sand martins to feed over the lagoons, while the first record of swift was on 28/4. Common sandpipers are also back and can be seen regularly around the lagoons with a maximum of seven present on 29/4.
Notable passage migrants have included numerous wheatears, mostly seen along the estuary track with a peak of 18 recorded on 12/4, a tree pipit on 16/4, regular sandwich terns feeding in the estuary with a maximum of 16 on 26/4, and small numbers of whimbrel on their way to Iceland with a peak of 12 on 27/4. Black-tailed godwits have also continued to be seen on their journey north to Iceland with a high count of 26 birds which stayed from 5/4 to 8/4. Two adult Mediterranean gulls on 3/4 were a good record for the reserve, as was a golden plover on 21/4.
Most of the wintering wildfowl has now left, leaving only very small numbers of shoveler, teal and wigeon among the more numerous regular breeding species including gadwall and tufted duck. Two exotic feral species were also of interest including an Egyptian goose seen on 23/4 and again on 29/4, and a drake mandarin on 24/4.
More butterflies have been noted as we move further into the spring, with orange tip, speckled wood and green-veined white all regularly seen. Moth trapping took place on 8/4 with four of our common species recorded including common quaker (photo by Bob Evans), clouded drab, Hebrew character and golden pygmy.
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