The number and variety of wading birds has been steadily increasing over the last few weeks as autumn migration picks up and we see many birds moving back southwards and dispersing away from their breeding grounds.
Four avocets on 2/7 were a particular highlight being the second record of the species here this year following a gap of over 10 years since they were previously recorded on the reserve (avocet photo by Ben Andrew, RSPB Images). A single spotted redshank was present between 20/7 and 26/7 while small numbers of greenshank have also appeared since 24/7, with a peak so far of five on 25/7. Small numbers of whimbrel have been seen on most days as they move southwards from their breeding grounds in Iceland to winter in coastal areas between southwest Europe and tropical west Africa. Black-tailed godwit have also made regular appearances with a maximum of four birds on 8/7, while other notable waders have included two ringed plover on 3/7, up to four common sandpiper, and small numbers of dunlin. Some of the more common species have been noticeably building in number as we move further into the autumn with 269 redshank, 133 curlew and 81 oystercatcher recorded on the monthly WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) count on 25/7.
Meanwhile several species of wildfowl still have young including a brood of tufted ducks, several broods of gadwall, and mallards and moorhens which have also both been seen with small chicks in recent days. Other wildfowl of interest has included three wigeon still present which have spent the summer here, some early returning pochard with a male on 20/7 and a female on 1/8, and an increasing number of teal.
A nice variety of other birds have been recorded over the last month with up to three great white egrets still present and seen on most days, Mediterranean gulls with individuals on 19/7 and 20/7 and two on 25/7, two common terns on 3/7 (a surprisingly scarce species on the reserve), two crossbill flying over on 3/7, an osprey over on 10/7 following a good number of previous records this year, individual redstarts on 10/7 and 1/8, and a yellow wagtail over on 19/7.
Butterflies have been numerous over the last few weeks with many gatekeepers (pictured) now flying, along with meadow browns and common blues in the grassland and scrub areas, and speckled woods among the trees. Other species noted have included small skipper, comma, brimstone, holly blue, small tortoiseshell, and red admiral.
Six-spot burnet moths are also very easy to see at the moment in the grassland areas. Meanwhile another moth trapping event took place on 10/7 with a good total of 84 species recorded. This time the trapping focussed on the reedbed habitats and a good number of reedbed specialist species were recorded including five species of wainscots. These were shoulder-striped, silky, smoky, southern, and obscure wainscot.
Good numbers of dragonflies and damselflies have also been seen including southern hawker, emperor, broad-bodied chaser, common darter and azure damselfly.
Another good record was a water scorpion (photo by Jonni Price) found in the dipping pond on 1/8. This follows only two previous reserve records of this species both from 2019. While not actually a true scorpion it has the appearance of one, with its tail acting as a 'snorkel' allowing it to breathe underwater rather than having a sting.
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