Having been away for half term last week, it seems that there's been little major change in terms of the wildlife, but some major changes for visitors.
First, let's start with the changes, which are the first phase of some significant upgrades in accessibility. Our wardens and volunteers have been busy working with our contractors, Gilliards, to enlarge the capacity of East Hide and make the hide much more accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Although the hide itself is now accessible, access currently remains impossible for wheelchair users, until phase two is completed. This will be a fully accessible path from the North Wall to East Hide, but this work will not be undertaken until the autumn in order to minimise disturbance to breeding birds.
I had a quick visit to East Hide yesterday, and it looks great. I can't wait to be able to see wheelchair users accessing the hide towards the end of the year, as that will be a great conclusion to our 75th birthday year. Here's a few photos of the newly enlarged hide.
The upper tier is now accessed from outside steps, and the lower tier via the original door
The upper tier now has half as much space again as the original hide
The new part of the lower tier has nice big windows for even better views
In terms of sightings, the star birds from February remain in situ, though they can be elusive at times. The pair of smew commute between West Scrape, South Scrape, and the small pools that are viewable from the pond viewpoint. A pair of goosanders were with them yesterday, too.
The lesser yellowlegs has become a bit more mobile, and has sometimes given really close views on the small pool north of the sluice, while at other times it's been on Lucky Pool or the Konik Field. Our Area Manager, Adam Rowlands, got a great picture of it over the weekend.
Elsewhere, there are still good numbers of ducks on the Scrape, along with several avocets, dunlins, turnstones and black-tailed godwits. The first Mediterranean and little gulls have returned to the Scrape, and oystercatchers are becoming more vocal. Several snipe can be seen from North Hide, too, but there have been no recent reports of the jack snipe.
At Island Mere we've heard the first booming bitterns this week, and great crested grebes are starting to display. Marsh harriers are busy displaying on sunny days, but bearded tits are less visible than of late.
At the visitor centre, there are still regular sightings of nuthatches, marsh and coal tits and great spotted woodpeckers on the feeders, where a house sparrow was a very rare sighting over the weekend! Nearby, up to four adders can be seen basking beneath the sand martin bank.
Other highlights this week have included a couple of great egrets, a flyover spoonbill, the occasional red kite, and Dartford warblers in the dunes.
So, why not come and visit us this month for some fabulous wildlife watching, and perhaps book a guided walk for a really special day.
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