After the excitement of last week's Buff-breasted Sandpiper, things have returned normal this week - whatever normal is. The natural world is full of unpredictability, so perhaps there really is no normal, but the reserve always feels a bit different when a rarity is seen, with an air of excitement, anticipation, and often frustration, among visiting birdwatchers.
Normal certainly doesn't mean boring, though. Far from it. There has still be plenty to excite our visitors this week, whatever their knowledge of wildlife.
Star attractions remain the family of Water Voles that have taken up residence in the pond. There appear to be three different sizes, so we assume this is a pair, a brood from earlier in the year, and a second brood from late summer. They can often be seen feeding on floating platforms of cut vegetation, but also sometimes sit on the supporting frame of the boardwalk itself, or even as high as a metre up in the reeds.
Whilst watching the Water Voles, some visitors have enjoyed good views of Grass Snakes, and a few have even been lucky enough to spot a passing Kingfisher. The pond is also a good place to watch Emerald and Willow Emerald Damselflies and Common Darter butterflies. A Kestrel is often hovering over the Sand Martin nest bank, too, even though it's residents have already left for Africa.
In the nearby North Bushes, the resident tits and Goldfinches have been joined by the first Siskins and Lesser Redpolls of the autumn, with several others passing overhead, while one or two Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats remain. During yesterday's bird ringing demonstration, the Waveney Bird Club also ringed 100 Meadow Pipits - just a small part of an impressive passage of at least 2500 birds yesterday. These are presumably Scandinavian birds arriving for the winter in the UK, or continuing south towards Spain.
There's still a good variety of waders on the Scrape, though numbers are starting to tail off as the migration passes its peak. Highlights today include nine Bar-tailed Godwits among the Black-tailed Godwits, one or two Green and Common Sandpipers, 11 Ruff and a Grey Plover. There are also several Dunlins, Ringed Plovers, Avocets and Snipe. Other waders seen during the week have included Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Knot, Sanderling and Spotted Redshank. A Black Tern and a couple of Arctic Terns have been seen too.
Bar-tailed Godwit with Teal
It's also been a good week for herons, although Spoonbills seem to have finally moved elsewhere. Up to nine Great Egrets remain, and can often be seen roosting in trees near Island Mere. Sightings of Bitterns are made every day, and both Little Egret and Grey Heron should be relatively easy to find.
Elsewhere in the reedbed, Bearded Tits have become more obvious this week, especially around North Wall, South Hide and Island Mere, and often give themselves away by their pinging calls. Several Hobbies can be seen hawking dragonflies, and Marsh Harriers and Buzzards are often seen over the reedbed. A few Little and Great Crested Grebes remain at Island Mere, as do Pochard, Tufted Duck and Coots. Kingfishers continue to be seen regularly, too, while Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails can be heard.
What else does the autumn have in store? When will the first Redwings and Fieldfares arrive? Only time will tell, but with more warm weather forecast, perhaps we'll hang to some Swallows and Sand Martins for a bit longer.
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