It's barely mid July but the increasing presence of wading birds around the reserve over the past few weeks is a sign that autumn migration is already well underway.
The first black-tailed godwits appeared particularly early with three on 11/6, most likely birds returning from Iceland which had failed to breed, then increasing numbers from the end of June with a peak so far of 21 on 9/7. Curlew and redshank numbers have also built up in recent weeks, now both into the hundreds with small numbers of whimbrel also present among the curlew flocks. Other waders have included individual green sandpiper seen on 4/7, 5/7 and again on 7/7, little ringed plover on 7/7, up to four greenshank since 3/7 (photo of birds seen previously by Bob Garrett), and snipe with the first one of the season seen on 8/7.
An unseasonal influx of several wildfowl species occurred on 15/6 with the presence of a female goldeneye, two pochard, and individual teal and merganser. These are all species which are normally found here over the winter, with goldeneye being a particularly unusual record for June. Their presence here at this time of year is again likely to be due to failed breeding, perhaps due to heavy rain which was occurring in various parts of the country around this time. Up to two pochard have also been seen on several days since, along with occasional merganser.
A more regular presence for the time of year has been the large moulting flocks of Canada geese which move on to the reserve in June having bred elsewhere. Almost 400 birds have been present in recent weeks around the lagoons and on the surrounding estuary with up to 50 greylag geese among them. There are also several species of water birds still with young, including the recent appearance of tufted duck and gadwall broods. A recently fledged great crested grebe also appeared on 20/6 and stayed for several days on the deep lagoon, though once again this species didn't breed on the reserve this year.
Other highlights over the past month have included a third year yellow-legged gull which was present on the deep lagoon on 15/6, Mediterranean gulls on 30/6 and 7/7, and a great white egret on the estuary on 23/6. Migrant birds have also included occasional wheatear and redstart, while seven sandwich terns were over the estuary on 29/6.
A variety of butterflies have been recorded recently including ringlet, comma, meadow brown, common blue and speckled wood along with an influx of migrant painted ladies. Dragonflies seen around the ponds have included Emperor, broad-bodied chaser and common darter.
Father's day was celebrated on 16th June with free entry for dads and a 'DIY with dad' activity which involved building bee B&Bs - nest boxes for solitary bees which participants could take home to put up in their gardens (photo by Louise Walker). A Binocular and Telescope Weekend was also held on 29/6 to 30/6. Other regular events included the volunteer led Saturday Wildlife Walks, and the Wednesday Summer Evening Strolls which ran until the end of June. Muddy Puddles groups with activities for toddlers were held on Wednesdays, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi Workshops on Thursdays, and the monthly Farmers Market was held on 26/6.
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