After another wet, dull morning I had decided against a lunchtime walk before starting my shift in the visitor centre this afternoon. Not long after my shift started a call went out on the radio that a penduline tit had been found at Wildlife Lookout. Needless to say, I wasn't in the visitor centre much longer as i quickly made my way to the hide.

On arrival in the hide I was greeted with the news that the bird was showing well right in front of the hide. As is typical of this species, it was busily feeding on the seed heads of reedmace - a plant that is often erroneously known as bulrush. The seeds were flying everywhere!

Despite being just a few metres from the hide, and feeding out in the open, the bird was proving to be rather shy as it chose to perch on the back of the reedmace stems, giving its presence away by the flying seeds, and occasionally glancing around to check for danger.

These views were sufficient to identify the bird as a youngster as it lacked the black mask and reddish upperparts of adult penduline tits. Nonetheless, it was a great bird to see, as they are far from annual visitors at Minsmere - although in such a large reedbed it would be easy to overlook them. As it moved between stems of reedmace, it did occasionally perch right out in the open for long enough for me to grab a better photo.

Penduline tits are scarce but regular visitors to the UK, with most sightings in winter and spring. They breed widely in wetlands scattered across Europe. Southern populations are largely sedentary, while northern populations are migratory and most likely account for the UK records. Their name comes from their beautiful pendulous nest, constructed from the fluffy seeds of reedmace and hung from waterside trees. 

The penduline tit was last seen at 3 pm, but could still be lurking in the reeds somewhere. Surprisingly, though, there were few reports of bearded tits in the reedbed today. 

Elsewhere in the reedbed there were at least seven marsh harriers, a couple of sightings of a male hen harrier, otters at Island Mere and the North Wall, a great white egret at Island Mere and regular bitterns.

At least three Bewick's swans remained on the Scrape today, and a whooper swan was on the pool behind South Hide, Seventeen avocets remain on the Scrape, where three dunlins were seen. Both yellow-legged and Caspian gulls were also seen on the Scrape. Elsewhere, a firecrest was close to the visitor centre, a late swallow was feeding over the Konik Field, and offshore a small group of gannets were diving for fish close to the sluice.

Anonymous