Recent sightings from 27 July to 2 August 2020

The week started with a real wash-out on Monday which brought lots of rain but hardly any sightings. However, the wet weather was short lived and already on Tuesday conditions improved rapidly. The result was some really nice sightings including bittern, peregrine and a few whimbrels on the mudflats. A magpie moth didn’t go unnoticed and once again a clouded yellow butterfly was spotted which should become a regular feature throughout the week. Whilst the willow warbler was only heard on Tuesday, two of them were spotted the day after. Wednesday brought also a very rare summer sighting of a brambling along the coast path and the spectacular kingfisher competed with the butterflies and dragonflies for the title of the most colourful species on site. It was still around the next day but the real spectacle on Thursday was the mass emergence of flying ants in the afternoon. Whilst admittedly I haven’t counted them, it will most likely not be an exaggeration to say that within a small time frame of only about half an hour, at least a million of these winged ants took to the air. It resembled a volcanic eruption in places and not least the black-headed gulls were very interested in this feast and were seen circling in the air to make the most of this as much as you can eat buffet. Flying ants might not be everyone’s favourite but as far as nature spectacles go it was right up there with the most impressive ones!


Photo credit: Flying ants by Stefan Zitzmann

The marsh harrier was only seen on Wednesday this week, but the hedgerows around Perry Lane were full of life. The chiffchaffs were very vocal, and their contact calls could be heard all week long and bullfinches tried their best to make themselves heard as well. Flocks of swallows and sand martins were flying over equally as noisy at times and family groups of long-tailed tits were jumping from tree to tree. One again also the green woodpecker was a regular and was heard “laughing” at us at many an occasion. The week ended on a high with a further sighting of the bittern on Saturday and of a kingfisher on Sunday.


Photo credit: Green woodpecker by Stefan Zitzmann

There was a new record number for different butterfly species for one week for this summer. No less than 18 different species have been recorded! Whilst gatekeeper, common and holly blue, meadow brown, speckled wood, red admiral, peacock, large and small white as well as the comma were seen on a daily basis, the rarer clouded yellow was seen on no less than four days. Small tortoiseshell, ringlet, green-veined white and small copper were also found. A small skipper was seen on Monday and once again on Wednesday along the coast path and not far from that a painted lady which had clearly been battered by the elements somehow still managed to fly on Thursday. Friday brought a sighting of a marbled white which is seen quite rarely on the reserve.


Photo credit: Common blue butterfly by Hannah Beynon

An impressive red underwing moth was trying to get into the visitor centre on Thursday. Magpie moth and 6-spot burnet were further interesting finds this week and on Friday a large buff-tip moth caterpillar was found making its way across the path. Bumblebees were still very busy, especially on the melilots and everlasting peas and dragonflies as well as damselflies could be seen everywhere, ranging from the big emperor dragonfly to the delicate blue-tailed damselfly.


Photo credit: Buff-tip caterpillar by Stefan Zitzmann

Goldcliff lagoons were not only interesting in regard to waders this week but also in regard to herons. Knot, ruff, common and green sandpiper as well as greenshank were the more unusual sightings in amongst the usual suspects such as avocet, redshank, dunlin, lapwing, ringed and little ringed plover as well as black-tailed godwit. Our “good old friend” the glossy ibis was once again around and was joined by four cattle egret on Thursday and a great white egret on Friday. During the weekend there were also several yellow wagtails reported.

Whilst the visitor centre with toilets, shop and café as well as the playground are still closed, most of the paths are open as usual and the car park is open every day from 9am till 5pm. Please follow the social distancing guidelines when visiting the reserve. For the latest news on opening of RSPB reserves and their facilities, click here and follow our twitter account for further updates.

Avocet, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Brambling, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cattle egret, Cetti’s warbler, Chiffchaff, Collared dove, Common sandpiper, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Glossy Ibis, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Great white egret, Greylag goose, Green sandpiper, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, Herring gull, House martin, House sparrow, Jay, Kingfisher, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Little ringed plover, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Ruff, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock dove, Swallow, Swift, Whimbrel, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren and Yellow wagtail.

Please note that we take our recent sightings list from the visitor sightings board that anyone can contribute to. This is great as everyone can get involved, but obviously can lead to potential errors too as they aren’t always verified! We try to keep this list as accurate as possible but if you see something unusual feel free to comment here!