Another reserve rarity turning up recently, this time a UK resident species which means we now have a full complement of the tit family at Fairburn with the arrival of a marsh tit. It is very similar to our other scarce breeder, the willow tit, careful identification is required to separate the two species as they look identical at a glance. Marsh tit plumage has a duller overall appearance and the bill has a pale patch at the base of the upper mandible. The call is also different from the willow tit so it pays to do some research and be forearmed if you are not familiar with the bird. Crested tit is not included in the family of course as it only occurs in Scotland, unless we get some very strong northerly winds, who knows!

Marsh tit - Joe Seymour

Some sightings from some vizmig (visible migration) sessions of birds flying over the reserve and heading southwards produced an amazing forty five buzzards on the 23rd September throughout the morning. The biggest skein of pink-footed geese noted was 103, with a total of 521 being recorded over a two week period.

Coal Tips

Bearded tits continue to show on the south-east lagoon with a maximum of six being seen on a single occasion. A bittern flew into the west lagoon on 28th September and marsh harriers have been seen frequently in the early evening. Other notable sightings have been of two stonechats, two water rails, small flocks of linnets, and up to six snipe on big hole.

Stonechat - Pete M

Flashes / Lin Dike

A maximum of four spoonbills were seen on spoonbill flash but these have now departed and so another exciting teaspoon producing season comes to an end. The cattle egret still remains on the reserve and is mobile so it pays to check in at the visitor centre for the most recent reports; the same can be said for the great white egret also.

Grey heron - Pete M

Up to two barn owls have been seen hunting over the flashes, displaying their ghostly elegant appearance whilst searching for prey.

Seven whooper swans dropped into new flash on 25th September providing some welcome company for the resident whooper, and a goosander made an appearance on the 24th September.

A round up of waders seen as follows, five snipe, a pale redshank, three little egret, four dunlin, two green sandpiper, two black-tailed godwit, water rail, greenshank, ringed plover and eight curlew.

Raptors noted have been hobby, sparrowhawk, buzzard, two kestrels, and three red kite.

Red kite - Pete M

Other sightings have been two Egyptian geese, two willow warbler, raven, two rooks, mistle thrush, stonechat and three cetti’s warblers. A bittern was seen on hicksons along with two bearded tits on 29th September.

Mistle thrush - Pete M

The great white egret has favoured the cut area of late, being seen regularly from Charlies hide. A bittern was seen on village bay on 2nd October along with house martins on cut lane. A kingfisher was seen from the duck feeding platform, hopefully avoiding the attention of the sparrowhawk who seemed to develop an appetite for one of our most popular birds on the reserve.

Pick up hide and visitor centre

Top spot was the aforementioned marsh tit in the company of willow tits on 30th September. Other sightings have been of marsh harrier, kestrel, sparrowhawk, two little egret, blackcap and an early redwing overhead.

A hobby made several appearances over the visitor centre as well as a peregrine.

Peregrine - Keith Boyer

Other

Butterflies noted were small white, speckled wood and small copper. 

Small copper - Pete M

Dragonflies noted have been migrant hawker and common darter.

Anonymous