What a week for weather!

Thank goodness the hides have re-opened – even if just to provide shelter from the downpours and strong winds. While the weather is annoying for us humans it’s a critical time in the breeding season. I’ve watched birds being buffeted to and fro trying to get food and fly back to feed hungry chicks, who might be getting cold and wet in the meantime as well as being hungry if food can’t be found. Fingers crossed for more settled conditions very soon.

Out on the reserve, as well as the aforementioned re-opening of the hides (yay!), you might also have noticed some work going on next to VP1, the first main viewing platform reached as you head on down the reserve. We have bike racks to install at both viewing platforms and with rather sloping terrain this is going to involve a little bit of platform building and revetment to ensure the racks (and your bikes!) stay where we put them.

We’ve also had a delivery of stone to the car park and this will be used to fill in pot holes on the main track through the reserve. This will take a while but we’ll work on it when we can. You should also notice potholes being filled on Shapwick reserve over the road!

Those are just a couple of examples of the management work that usually goes on this time of year, aimed at improving the visitor experience at the reserve while habitat management work is on hold for the breeding season. And thankfully visitors have managed to come to the reserve this week and even found some sunshine enticing out the insect life. Let's find out what has been spotted this week:

Bitterns! They are still flying even though we’ve not been able to survey due to the weather and both John Crispin and David Love were lucky enough to capture birds in flight.

Thank you David for those two photos!

David spotted his bittern from VP2 further down the reserve while John snapped his from VP1. Thanks both! Also from VP1 John saw marsh harriers in flight – a male carrying nesting material with female in tow, and the female also having an altercation with a crow.

Onto slightly more peaceful sightings – John watched a pair of great crested grebes changing over nest duties:

John also spotted a coot with young in attendance, trying to eat a water snail. It was successful!  Thank you for the lovely images John.

Staying on the topic of food, Sandie Andrews and Mike Pearce spent some time on Wednesday (a rare sunny day) watching the food chain in action, with creatures either munching away on something or being eaten themselves! Here we go:

Moving on up the food chain, this female blue-tailed damselfly (purple colour morph) was having breakfast......

....eating it down quickly before something else could pinch it, or maybe eyeing up its next course!!

Thank you Sandie!

At the end of the food chain the top predator of the day was the great spotted woodpecker.  Mike captured the male taking in a four-spotted chaser dragonfly:

and then one of the parents clearing up the waste afterwards while the other waits to go in. Thank you Mike for these shots!

Thank you to all contributors and apologies I wasn’t able to access anything sent directly to our usual blogger Steve Couch.

To finish off, some final beautiful shots from Sandie to put us all in an appreciative and relaxing mood for the weekend:

The humble dandelion

A sedge warbler "giving its' all"

Sandie commented: "Female blue tailed damselfly (purple colour morph) casting a long shadow - wonder if they know what a shadow is."

Something for you to ponder over for the next few days!  Happy weekend everyone!