Just when you expect reserve to be quieter three more local rarities turn up, albeit briefly and only seen by a handful of observes who happened to be in the right place at the right time. First up on Monday 5th November was a brief sighting of a great grey shrike in the Hicksons Flash area, these birds are scarce autumn migrants and winter visitors with between 150-300 individuals expected throughout the UK.

Great grey shrike - Keith Boyer

On Saturday 10th November a search through a flock of meadow pipits revealed a water pipit, showing well initially in front of Lin Dike hide. Unfortunately the flock took flight and the bird was not seen again despite some hardy individuals sitting in the hide on a stakeout. Once a frequent visitor to the reserve this is the first record since 2014, the water pipit is a scarce winter visitor from central/southern Europe and can be found on the fringes of inland waters or marshes.

The day after the appearance of the water pipit was another short staying bird, the first recorded sighting since 1999 of a twite.  It appeared in front of Lin Dike hide staying briefly before taking flight never to be seen again. Twite are found on coastal crofts or in upland Britain where they breed in the summer, they are more commonly found on coastal saltmarshes in the winter where they feed in flocks low down in vegetation.

Coal Tips

The goosander roost is starting to build with counts of 91, 71 and 61 the last 3 weekends, a pinging bearded tit was also heard on the 17th November. Woodcock have also been seen with one being disturbed on the morning of the 4th November, with a further two being seen at dusk on the same day. There have been frequent sightings of a marsh harrier at dusk also, so if you are waiting for the starling murmuration keep your eyes peeled, plus a sparrowhawk has been seen taking an interest in the starlings. Up to 8 snipe have also been noted. Big hole has become a favourite haunt of a great white egret with frequent sightings, 200+ lapwings and peregrine have also been seen.

Goosander - Pete M

Flashes / Lin Dike

The cattle egret still remains on the reserve and has now been present for thirteen weeks. Two great white egrets have been seen on occasions, sightings have been made at various locations of either one or two, and single birds are often seen in flight.

A round up of waders seen with up to, eighteen curlew, two little egret, three snipe, two redshank, a total of twelve golden plover, and a single common sandpiper.

Raptors noted have been merlin on 9th November, sparrowhawk, buzzard, kestrel, two peregrine and marsh harrier.

Peregrine – Pete M

Goosanders have been noted regular with a maximum of six being seen, also two pintail and two goldeneye noted on 17th November. Two Egyptian geese continue to be seen, although they can be found anywhere on the reserve.  The resident whooper swan can usually found on either Spoonbill or New Flash.

Main Bay / Village bay

Up to thirteen pintails in the cut lane area, plus a red-crested pochard/tufted duck hybrid on 7th November. Also up to seven goosander, and a single redshank on12th November with counts of 254 Gadwall and 22 wigeon on 11th November. Village bay count on 11th November revealed 186 coots and 22 teal present. Main bay produced up to twelve goosander, six pintail and a goldeneye. The gull roost on main bay produced 2000+ herring gulls and a single lesser black-backed gull on 13th November.

Pintail - Pete M

Pick up hide, visitor centre, and riverbank trail

A woodcock was seen from the feeding platform on 4th November, four siskins were noted on the riverbank trail and a good size flock of twenty redpoll on the discovery trail. Now that leaves are all on the ground it should be easier to spot treecreepers, willow tits and goldcrests around the trails.

Lesser redpoll - Pete M

Visible migration / overflights

Pink-footed geese continue to be seen over the reserve with a total of 310 being seen overhead. Totals of 4620 wood pigeon, 511 fieldfare, 180 redwing all heading south, 119 golden plover and 21 snipe heading east, and a single oystercatcher heading northwest.

Fieldfare - Pete M