Well the news is out now, the exciting press release stating that we have a breeding pair of spoonbills for the second year running. The new viewing area will provide excellent views of these extraordinary looking birds, and don’t forget the coal tips which is the best place to see these majestic birds in flight. It’s quite something to witness the spoonbills graceful flight coming from such an ungamely looking bird, it looks so streamlined and the flight appears effortless.
Spoonbill - credit Pete M
The nest they build consists of twigs, sticks and other vegetation in which the female usually lays 3 to 4 eggs which are incubated for around 24 to 25 days before hatching. The prime time for the spoonbills to search for food is in the morning and evening, wading methodically through water whilst sweeping it’s huge bill from side to side to locate its prey. They hunt for small fish, shrimp and other invertebrates.
Juvenile spoonbill affectionately known as teaspoon - credit Pete M
Please enquire at the visitors centre for directions to the new viewing area.
There is no doubt that this is the best location to see specials birds at the moment. If you are lucky you may catch the elusive bittern in flight around the lagoons at close quarters whilst feeding flights are taking place, a sight never to be forgotten. Bitterns spend the majority of their time hidden away in the reed beds camouflaged by their yellowish tawny-brown plumage, which is marked with black and brown all over making them appear invisible amongst the reeds.
Bittern - credit Keith Boyer
Not forgetting the beautiful black-necked grebes, there are around 7 present, and also the cuckoos which can be perched on fence posts or tree tops giving superb views. Add to that the chance of a spoonbill flying past, where else would you get the chance to see these stunning birds altogether, do you feel lucky?
Other sightings over the last week have been of common terns, common sandpiper and 28 arctic terns flying over on the 28th May.
Main Bay / Village Bay
Avocets have had an excellent breeding season; so far up to 19 chicks have been counted with more still to be hatched. Let’s hope a large percentage survive as the avocets parenting skills are questionable to say the least, some will be lost to predation but we should have a healthy number survive this year.
Avocet chick - credit Pete M
A few waders have been stopping over on the islands in main bay, noted have been turnstone, redshank, little ringed plover, and green sandpiper.
A pair of oystercatchers have also successfully bred with 3 chicks being reported. Other species noted have been yellow wagtail, white wagtail, hobby, black tern, little tern and common terns. A notable part albino swift was amongst the usual throng, having a white lower breast and belly, looking very much like a “mini” alpine swift!
A quite time of year for the flashes, the most notable visitor being an out of season whooper swan which appeared on the 28th May and was around for a few days. Other sightings have been of a male wigeon, a welcome sighting of a peregrine and of course the spoonbills in flight, with 2 different birds being seen on one occasion.
Whooper swan - credit Pete M
Chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, sedge and reed warbler, lesser whitethroat, garden warbler and cetti’s warbler can all be heard in this area, a little more patience required before they appear from cover at this time of year.
Butterflies that have been noted around the reserve are small tortoiseshell, small white, large white, green-veined white, brimstone, orange tip, speckled wood, peacock, comma, small copper, common blue, dingy skipper, holly blue and brown argus. Moths that have been noted are silver y, sycamore and cinnabar.
Small copper - credit Pete M
Dragonflies recorded so far have been emperor, four-spotted chaser, and black-tailed skimmer.
Black-tailed skimmer (female) - credit Pete M
Damselflies recorded so far have been blue-tailed damselfly, large red damselfly, azure damselfly, common blue and banded demoiselle.
Large red damselfly - credit Pete M
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