With all our regular summer visitors already back well before the end of April, the past two weeks has seen an interesting mix of other passage migrants dropping into the reserve.
A drake gargany on 2/5 was perhaps the main highlight, present on the shallow lagoon from late afternoon into the evening, but unfortunately wasn't located again the following morning (photo of a previous bird by Jon Ward). An osprey was over the reserve on 28/4 while yellow wagtails were seen again on 30/4 and 7/5. Two male whinchats and a male redstart were along the estuary track on 30/4 and a tree pipit flew over on 2/5. Whimbrels have been present almost daily along the estuary with peaks of 18 birds on both the 29/4 and 2/5 as they continue to move northwards, while 3 black-tailed godwits were on the deep lagoon on 28/4 and 1/5. Wheatears have also been regularly seen including several of the slightly larger and brighter Greenland race, along with good numbers of white wagtails moving through. Sandwich terns have also been present in small numbers, fishing in the estuary on the high tides.
Other highlights have included a 1st summer Mediterranean gull on one of the lagoon islands on 30/4, a rather unseasonal grey plover on the estuary on 8/5, red kites over on 2/5 and 11/5 and a raven over on 5/5.
Meanwhile it looks like we've said goodbye to the last of our wintering visitors to the reserve, with a pair of mergansers present up until 1/5, a single pochard last seen on 28/4, and snipe last seen on 6/5. The male mandarin which added an extra splash of colour for several weeks also made a departure having been last reported on 27/4.
Meanwhile our migrant breeding birds continue to be vocal around the reserve with plenty of reed and sedge warblers singing away, along with smaller numbers of garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat. Good numbers of hirundines have been frequently feeding over the lagoons, often numbering several hundred birds with a fairly even mix of swallows, house martins and sand martins, along with good numbers of swifts. Common sandpipers are also a daily sight on the deep lagoon with up to four birds present over the last couple of weeks.
There's also plenty of evidence of breeding activity from the water birds with at least two broods of coots on the shallow lagoon, a brood of moorhens near the reedbed boardwalk, a large brood of mallards on the deep lagoon and Canada geese with five goslings on the paddocks. Meanwhile a pair of great crested grebes are still persevering with a precariously placed nest on the deep lagoon though it still remains uncertain as to whether they've actually laid any eggs, perhaps we'll find out shortly!
The warm sunny weather has meant there's plenty of insects on the wing with a new species added to the reserve list, ashy mining bee found on 28/4. Other bees recorded include red-tailed, buff-tailed, and white-tailed bumble bees along with early and common carder, while butterflies have included orange tip, speckled wood, small tortoiseshell, peacock and green-veined white.
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