Over the last few weeks we've had varying weather and also varying wildlife to go with it. Many birds became rather excited about the warm weather and have been displaying, house hunting (prospecting for nest sites) and singing. Views outside the window of our visitor centre have been entertaining with groups of teal, shoveller and goldeneye displaying in their different ways. We've had house sparrows and great tits prospecting the nest boxes on the visitor centre (hopefully something will nest in the one with the camera this year!). Bitterns have been booming already which is a good sign for the population of bitterns and also for our Bittern Breakfast events!

Bittern - Graham Parry

On the dry calm days we experienced, visitors were treated to lengthy views of bearded tits and reed buntings - we will be monitoring their breeding successes in our reedbed area again this year. When the weather changed we noticed some migrants drop in; a spoonbill stopped by to feed and rest on Burrowes Pit before heading off again on the same day. A black redstart was seen here on Friday and we have also had some early swallows and sand martins flying over the reserve for the past few days. Dartford warblers and the first wheatear of the year have been seen in the area but not yet on our reserve. 

Dartford warbler - Graham Parry

This week, however, we were struck by storm Gareth and many birds have hidden themselves away. It's good weather for ducks and we've had a black-necked grebe out on the pit by Christmas Dell hide and the male smew has still been seen on the reserve this week too. Large groups of wigeon have been spotted up near Boulderwall today and a brent goose was seen yesterday on Denge Marsh. Many waders are also dropping in with up to 12 ruff seen at once (including a lovely pale breasted one), knot, ringed and little ringed plover on Burrowes Pit. 

Black-necked grebe (winter and summer plumage) - Graham Parry

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