A changeable week of weather meant a lot less activity from our colourful winged insects, but the birds once again did not disappoint. The three spoonbills are still present, and have spent a lot of time on Bridge Pool offering good views from Marsh Covert hide and Bridge screen, but also still spending time in the treetops. One cattle egret was also on Bridge Pool for much of Wednesday, with another bird sitting tight in the heronry, we hope on an active nest.
Wednesday brought us a couple of late passage waders, with a wood sandpiper near Marsh Covert hide and a curlew sandpiper on Centenary Pool in front of Inner Marsh Farm hide. Early in the week we had a marsh harrier hunting over the reedbed and wet grassland, whilst the bearded tits were rewarding visitors' patience at Reedbed screen, at least when the weather was calm.
The damp, gloomy weather resulted in excellent views of swifts, along with both sand martins and house martins and some swallows, feeding low in front of the visitor centre. Also near the visitor centre, a fledged juvenile great spotted woodpecker being fed by its mother gained a lot of attention, whilst green woodpecker sightings were quite numerous up on Burton Point field.
Green Woodpecker by John Hewitt
The gradually dropping water level on Reception Pool has attracted decent numbers of black-tailed godwits, some in stunning summer plumage, to feed here along with occasional avocets, close enough to the visitor centre to admire without even binoculars! On Saturday a stoat was very active there too.
Bee orchids are beginning to flower around the sides and front of the visitor centre, with hopefully more to emerge along the path towards the Bunker screen, where a yellow wagtail was giving good views on the adjacent field on Friday.
Not quite as exciting as last week's white-winged black tern, but the spotted flycatcher found close to the railway cutting on Burton Point field was the first sign of this summer visitor on the reserve this year. We have had them nest on the reserve in the past, so hopefully we may see a pair settling in this year.
Spotted flycatcher by Carole Killikelly
As last week, the wardens have continued their close monitoring of the breeding birds on the reserve, particularly the vast numbers of waders nesting on the wet grassland. Current numbers are pointing to another very good breeding season for the reserve's top priorities.
The never-ending spring and summer path tidying has also kept them busy, with fast growing nettles, brambles and grass regularly being cut to keep the paths neat and easily used for you, our visitors.
We have a busy few weeks, with our first Optics Demo in several years on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June, giving you chance to try a broad range of binoculars and 'scopes with expert advice available to help make the big decisions.
Before that, we have another Nature Photography Workshop led by well-renowned local amateur photographer, Ron Thomas, with very limited places so don't leave it long to book!
Father's Day is racing towards us, and as every year we have a Dad's Go Free offer for families visiting on Sunday 16 June. We also have our new wildflower-themed Wild Challenge family trail out for June, so don't forget to pick up a quiz sheet on arrival at the visitor centre.
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