This week at the wetlands we have seen a fantastic array of birds, mammals and even the odd insect still flying about in the autumn sunshine. Red admiral is one of the butterflies that will continue flying into October or November and can be seen nectaring on garden buddleias, flowering Ivy and on rotting fruit. There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.
The reserve is alive with starlings and the murmurations we are seeing are a true spectacle. We are seeing lots of visitors come to see them and our lovely volunteers are putting on a fab talk and guided walk three times a week to help people learn about this bird and what a murmaration is. Our starlings like to arrive just before sunset and fly from the west side of the reserve over to the east where they gather in thousands; landing on our lovely array of pylons, before murmurating and roosting into the reed bed. We are seeing a varying amount of starling from 30,000 at the beginning of the week to approximately 80,000 on the weekend. The traditional approach to large flocks is to count a small proportion of the flock and then multiply to estimate the total number of birds. So, if you count 57 birds in about 10% of a flock your estimate is that the flock consists of approximately 570 birds. But it is an estimate and relies on, for example, birds being equally densely spaced throughout the flock. It would be reasonable to give your estimate as approximately 550 or 600 birds. We can enlist the help of technology. With plenty of time on our hands we could take a photo, print it out and carefully mark each bird as we counted. That would give a reasonably accurate count if the whole flock appeared in the picture and a good estimate if you needed to multiply up the count.
Seeing birds of prey like marsh harriers and sparrowhawk comes with the territory when starlings murmurate. These birds like to stir them up and hope for a successful catch. We are seeing marsh harriers in almost every murmaration we see at the wetlands. They are a joy to see and watch hunt. The arrival of actively hunting raptors (some seem more interested in having a look round than hunting) often brings the murmuration to an abrupt end as the Starlings drop into the reeds for cover.
Image credit: Kirsty Lindsay
The winter thrushes are giving the reserve a good berry blasting. We don’t expect it to be too long before all the berry bushes are completely desolated, and we see some happy, well fed redwing and fieldfare!
Image credit: Redwing, Jeremy White
Image credit: Fieldfare, Jeremy White
Regular sightings of the Kingfisher can be seen sitting with a nice cup of hot coffee and cake in the café as he perches at the back of the scrape from time to time. An amazing array of garden birds can be seen by simply standing and watching our feeders outside the kiosk where regulars are chaffinch, goldfinch, long-tailed tits, house sparrows, great spotted woodpeckers and a Jay and a pheasant who loves to show us their moves.
Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Cetti's Warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove, Common Darter, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, grey wagtail, Herring gull, House sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, kingfisher, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Linnet, Little egret, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, merlin, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Red admiral, redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Water Rail, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren, fox, Otter, Rabbit.
Author: Kirsty Lindsay
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