With the summer migrants long gone and autumn migration drawing to an end, the variety of birdlife around the reserve is now typical of the winter season. One of the latest arrivals was the first firecrest of the winter reported near the Bridge Pond on 16/11, one of our most sought after birds on the reserve during this time of year (photo of a bird seen previously by Bob Garrett).
Wildfowl species have been nicely building up in number with a peak so far of at least 22 merganser on 5/11, and a slight increase in pochard with five also on 5/11, shoveler with seven on 16/10, up to two goldeneye and individual goosander. Good numbers of wigeon, teal and gadwall continue to be present. Meanwhile whooper swans were a very welcome arrival, with two present on several days around the end of October and a further individual on 2/11. More unusual wildfowl sightings for the reserve have included individual pink-footed goose on 16/11, and common scoter, also on 16/11 and still present as of 17/11. A great crested grebe was also present on 14/11 and up until at least 17/11 while sightings of water rail have been regular, particularly around the boardwalk.
Wader highlights included a long staying spotted redshank which remained with the redshank flocks through much of the autumn, last seen on 9/11. Greenshank and knot have made occasional appearances, while numbers of lapwing and snipe continue to build up to their typical winter numbers.
Flocks of thrushes have been noted regularly with good numbers of redwing often present, and a flock of fieldfare was seen flying over on 29/10. Goldcrests have been frequently seen, often with the tit flocks, while flocks of siskin have also been noted, particularly around the dipping pond. Stonechats, another typical winter species on the reserve have been seen occasionally in the areas of scrub and along the estuary track.
Stoats have made several appearances throughout the past month, while insect records seem to have almost ceased for the winter with the last common darter dragonfly recorded on 24/10 and a painted lady butterfly on 28/10.
Further progress has been made with habitat management work on the reserve with all the tall vegetation removed from the islands on the shallow lagoon (shown in the photo) and from some of the islands on the deep lagoon. This creates better habitat conditions for wading birds and wildfowl to feed and roost on the islands and also greatly improves the viewing potential of any birds using them.
Meanwhile, events over the past month have included weekly Saturday morning volunteer lead Wildlife Walks, a Binocular and Telescope Weekend on 2/11 to 3/11 and other regular events including Muddy Puddles for pre-school children on Wednesdays, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi workshops each Thursday, and the monthly Farmers Market which took place on 30/10.
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