Autumn migration is in full swing and this is the time to be on the lookout for birds passing through on migration south. One such bird which always creates excitement is the marsh harrier, a regular passage migrant and occasionally over-winters on the reserve. The largest harrier species, typically seen flying low over marshes with steady wing beats between glides on raised wings whilst hunting. If you are walking around the flashes or coal tips and wildfowl suddenly takes to the air then have a quick glance to the sky and you may be lucky enough to see an incoming marsh harrier looking for a tasty meal.
Marsh harrier - Jon Buxton
Whilst talking about looking skywards, skeins of pink-footed geese are moving south at the moment travelling to their wintering grounds so keep your eyes peeled for these impressive formations of geese passing over the reserve. To date we have had 2 pink-foots on the ground amongst a flock of greylag geese, pink-foots are smaller so can be easily picked out in flight amongst the larger greylags when they are hitching a ride!
A fairly quiet period up on the tips but still the best vantage point to scan over the flashes checking out wildfowl and also the skies for raptor movements. The most notable sightings have been of a single whinchat and a wheatear passing through, bearded tits also continue to be seen infrequently. A pair of kestrels could be regularly seen hovering in the strong winds, a good photo opportunity to capture this graceful falcon.
Kestrel - Pete M
Flashes / Lin Dike
With water levels rising some birds will be departing, we have enjoyed a good variety of birds with the lower water levels with the spoonbills staying around longer than they did last year.
Spoonbills could still be seen feeding anywhere around the flashes or also be seen in flight as they venture further afield for food, seven juveniles could often be seen feeding or in flight together.
The cattle egret remains on the reserve, usually seen around the cattle or feeding in various locations. The great white egret is still present and can be found literally anywhere on the reserve. Other sightings include garganey, two pintails, the resident whooper swan, up to sixteen black-tailed godwits, wood sandpiper, up to four greenshank, two green sandpipers, six ringed plovers, common sandpiper, sixteen curlews appeared on 16th September and two pink-footed geese on the 21st September.
Whooper swan - Pete M
Wood sandpiper - Pete M
Other notable sightings have been of thirty plus yellow wagtails on 9th September, up to five whinchat, three wheatears, thirty three meadow pipits noted on 15th September, two ravens on 19th September, two rooks on the 12th September (a rarely seen bird on the reserve), and a tree pipit seen on the footpath near Lin Dike hide on 20th September.
Raptor sightings include four marsh harriers, hobby, four red kite, twelve buzzards and also an appearance of two barn owls seen hunting at dusk and early morning.
Main Bay / Village bay
The red-crested pochard remained usually seen from charlies hide but has made the odd trip across to village bay. Two garganey have been in residence in the cut area and can be seen occasionally from charlies hide, a cetti’swarbler was showing well from this location on 12th September. Two pintail and two Egyptian geese were also present, two goosander were reported flying overhead to the east on 10th September.
Garganey - Pete M
A bittern was seen from pick up hide on 14th September, three hobbys were seen over the Newfield area and a siskin was seen on the riverbank trail on 20th September. The largest pink-footed goose movement was of eighty flying south over the reserve on 19th September.
If you happen to be sat having a break outside the visitor centre keep your eyes open, you never know who’s watching you, such as this great spotted woodpecker peeking over a pole on the roadside.
Great spotted woodpecker - Pete M
Butterflies noted were small white, speckled wood and red admiral.
Dragonflies noted have been southern hawker and common darter.
A pair of hares can still be seen in the stubble field opposite the moat area, they have also been seen in the field at the rear of Cedrics.
Hare - Pete M
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654