It’s been a good week for birdwatchers, although some of our more unusual visitors have proved to be a bit elusive at times.
Up to three cattle egrets have been seen occasionally, but distantly, on the South Levels. Another, still bearing some orangy breeding plumes, has been seen on the Scrape on several occasions, where its presence has not been welcomed by the resident little egrets. Sightings of cattle egrets at Minsmere have increased considerably during the last couple of years. There have also been a couple of sightings this week of great white egrets, which with the regular bitterns and grey herons have made it possible to see five heron species in a day.
Cattle egret by Steve Everett
A juvenile pectoral sandpiper has now been present for several days. It seems to be favouring the Konik Field pools, but has also been seen on East Scrape and the Chapel Field Pool, and can often go “missing” for several hours. This is a scarce, but annual, visitor from the high Arctic regions of Canada.
Pectoral sandpiper by Clare Carter
Other notable waders on the Scrape this week have included two curlew sandpipers, two little stints, several little ringed plovers, spotted redshanks, green and common sandpipers and ruffs, plus sizeable flocks of dunlins and ringed plovers. Up to 30 avocets remain, too.
There have been regular sightings of small flocks of bearded tits feeding along the muddy margins of the Scrape and Konik Field, with water rails in the same locations, too. Bitterns, otters and marsh harsh harriers are all still in the reedbed.
One of the highlights of the Love Minsmere Festival on Sunday was watching a hobby, buzzard and sparrowhawk circling together over Whin Hill, in company with the drone that was filming us. In fact, the thermals generated by the warm air attracted up to three hobbies and two kestrels to catch the abundant migrant hawker dragonflies, while a red kite was seen earlier in the day.
Another highlight of the day was a spotted flycatcher in one of the overflow car parks, in close company with a chiffchaff. Other migrants have included common and lesser whitethroats, blackcaps, reed warblers, whinchats and wheatears. We've also had sightings of both house and tree sparrows int he dunes this week. Both are scarce visitors to Minsmere.
Spotted flycatcher by Jon Evans
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