With autumn now only just around the corner, we have seen a further increase in the variety of wading birds passing through the reserve, along with the first arrivals of some of our winter species.
Wader highlights over the past month have included ruff on 20/8, spotted redshank on 24/8 and 14/9 (photo of a bird seen previously by Bob Garrett), and curlew sandpiper and little stint on 1/9. Small numbers of whimbrel continue to pass through while green sandpipers were present again on 21/8 and 26/8. Greenshank, black-tailed godwit and dunlin have been regularly seen, along with occasional knot and up to two common sandpipers still present from the summer season. Meanwhile numbers of snipe continue to build, and up to two bar-tailed godwits have also been present, both of which are over-wintering species here.
Other winter arrivals have included wigeon with the first of the season seen on 29/8, a significant build up in numbers of teal with at least 100 birds now present, smaller numbers of shoveler with up to six seen, and a single pochard present since 13/9. Water rails have also arrived back for the winter season with the first one recorded on 1/9, while chough are now being seen almost daily flying over the reserve as they move between thier winter roost sites and foraging areas around the Conwy valley.
Other highlights have included further sightings of a great white egret from 28/8 to 30/8, a 2nd summer Mediterranean gull on 6/9, and a whinchat on 13/9, while other summer migrants still remain in small numbers with common and lesser whitethroat, reed warbler and chiffchaff all seen in recent days. A few house martins are also still present over the lagoons and a late swift was recorded on 7/9.
In non-avian interest, a slow worm was a significant record for the reserve with one seen on 5/9. Reptile sightings are extremely rare here which is likely due to the reserve's location with the surrounding Conwy estuary, railway line and the A55 expressway providing physical obstructions, despite there being suitable habitat.
The warmer days have continued to produce insect sightings with butterflies including comma and speckled wood, along with common darter and common hawker dragonflies. Of particular interest was a water stick insect, possibly a first record for the reserve which was found on 4/9 while carrying out a survey of invertebrates in the lagoons.
With the breeding season over, it's also the time of year when we start the habitat management work which will continue throughout the winter season. This will see a significant amout of reed and scrub vegetation removed around the reserve to keep pathways clear, open up views of the reserve from the various hides and viewing screens, and to maintain a diverse range of habitats for wildlife (volunteers pictured clearing reed near Benarth Hide).
Meanwhile events over the past month have included Buzzy Bees and Beautiful Butterflies on 21/8 which featured educational activities for children, Pond Dipping for Adults on 25/8 which saw a significant change in the usual age range of people using the dipping pond and proved highly popular, and a Young People's Photography Workshop on 1/9. Muddy Puddles returned on Wednesdays with activities for pre-school children and will continue each week during term time, while Nordic Walking and Tai-Chi workshops took place each Thursday, and the monthly Farmer's Market was held on 28/8.
An Open Weekend will be held on 21/9 and 22/9, with free entry for everyone, and activities including guided walks and pond dipping.
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