After such wet weather for the last few weeks, it's been great to see the sun over the last couple of days. The arrival of colder weather, complete with frosty mornings, has brought a few small changes to the birds seen here.
Perhaps most exciting is the arrival of a small murmuration of starlings. It's early days yet, but after reports of 2000 over North Wall on Friday, we've watched about 4000 gathering there tonight. They immediately attracted the unwanted attention of both peregrine and sparrowhawk - the raptors intent on an evening snack to help them through the cold nights. While 4000 starlings can put on a good show, it's not as impressive as the larger flocks that have gathered in recent winter, so we hope that numbers will continue to increase and the birds will return here every evening for several weeks. We'll keep you updated, but to whet your appetite, here's a photo from a few years ago.
The action began about 3.45 pm this afternoon, so we suggest you arrive no later than 3.30 pm, and wrap up warm as the temperature drops very quickly.
Our lone whooper swan has also been joined by a family of two adults and three cygnets, along with another adult. All seven swans were seen on the pool behind South Hide today. Please note that wellingtons are required if you want to walk between South Hide and the sluice, though.
Offshore, several red-throated divers and great crested grebes are gathering for the winter, while singles of both black-throated and great northern divers were reported over the weekend. So, too, were single pomarine and great skuas.
Despite the drop in temperatures, a single very late swallow was seen over Island Mere yesterday and about a dozen avocets remain on the Scrape, reminding us of summer.
Other highlights on the Scrape include Caspian and yellow-legged gulls, a few pintails among the hundreds of ducks, small flocks of black-tailed godwits and snipe, one or two turnstones, and a couple of little egrets. Bitterns, otters, water rails and marsh harriers continue to be seen from the reedbed hides.
Flocks of tits in the woods have included a few goldcrests and treecreepers, while an elusive Pallas's warbler was seen on three dates last week between the Work Centre and Island Mere. We're put a few apples around the visitor centre in the hope of attracting waxwings or fieldfares. No luck yet, but they have proved popular with the blue tits and robins, and a female blackcap was seen eating them yesterday.
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