Recent sightings from 20 to 26 July 2020

Lots of birds are quite secretive at this time of the year and try to keep a low profile after finishing their breeding business. There were, however, still regular sightings of reed buntings whilst Cetti's warblers could be heard every now and then. A sedge warbler was spotted on Monday and some bearded reedlings including at least two juveniles were seen on Wednesday. The fact that the reed warblers near the visitor centre kept flying past us with food in their bills is a sure sign that their young ones are yet to fledge. Chiffchaffs could be heard contact calling all over the reserve and every now and then you could get a glimpse of a blackcap and a common whitethroat both of which were looking after youngsters. Green and great spotted woodpecker were regulars as well as bullfinches.

Photo credit: Common whitethroat by Stefan Zitzmann

Along the coast there were once again a good number of shelducks and curlews and on Sunday there were also some black-tailed godwits among them. Another highlight was a whimbrel on Monday. On the lagoons were mainly mallards, mute swans and little grebes with gadwall and teal being present on Wednesday as well. Swallows and sand martins were seen hunting over the water. There were only a few sightings of two of our most sought-after species this week with the bittern being recorded on Monday and Wednesday and the marsh harrier on Wednesday and Thursday. Sparrowhawk and kestrel were both seen as this week, a willow warbler was heard and seen on Friday and on Sunday a water rail didn’t get unnoticed.  


Photo credit: Clouded yellow by Stefan Zitzmann

Less secretive were this week once again the butterflies which filled the reserve with lots of colour. We ended up just one shy of last week’s recorded 15 butterfly species, but 14 is still a very good result indeed. The most common butterflies this week were once again the gatekeepers, but also large and small white as well as holly and common blue, peacock, red admiral, meadow brown and speckled wood were seen frequently. Small skipper, green-veined white, comma and ringlet were also found and on Monday a clouded yellow was a special treat. This migratory butterfly is a rare visitor the the wetlands and was found flying back and forth along the coast path. A rather impressive drinker moth was welcoming us right in front of the entrance to the visitor centre on Friday and the narrow-boardered five-spot burnet moth was seen on the reserve. All week long there was also lots of bee and bumblebee activity with the rare shrill carder bee being seen on a daily basis alongside other beauties such as the mighty red-tailed bumblebee and the rather elegant grey-banded mining bee. No less spectacular were the dragonflies and damselflies with emperor, black-tailed skimmer, southern hawker, common and ruddy darter dragonflies as well as common blue and blue-tailed damselflies being the most numerous ones.


Photo credit: Emperor dragonfly by Stefan Zitzmann

Weasels were seen running over the paths once again and there was plenty of stoat action going on. This powerful and dynamic mustelid was not only seen on the reserve and on the car park, but was also a regular visitor around or welcome marquee. On Thursday there were no less than three stoats running back and forth with their distinctive black-tipped tails. Rabbits tried to hide away whilst the reed warblers tried to keep them away from their nest. Dynamic is certainly also a fitting attribute for the grass snake with was spotted on Thursday and on Sunday. 

Highlights at Goldcliff lagoons this week were the return of the glossy ibis which was seen on Thursday and Saturday and a very good selection of wading birds including black-tailed godwit, curlew, dunlin, avocet, ringed and little ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher, knot, turnstone, snipe, common and green sandpiper and sanderling. Not a bad collection for one week at all! On Saturday there were also some yellow wagtails and a hobby was flying past.


Photo credit: Black-tailed godwits with dunlins, lapwings and little egrets by Jeremy White

Whilst the majority of the paths are open as normal under the social distancing guidelines, the visitor centre itself with shop, café and toilets as well as the playgrounds are still closed. For the latest news on opening of RSPB reserves and their facilities, click here.

This week has shown once again that there is plenty to be seen all around the reserve if you keep your eyes open. Let’s see what we can find next week!

Avocet, Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti’s warbler, Chiffchaff, Collard dove, Common sandpiper, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Glossy ibis, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green sandpiper, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Greylag goose, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, Jay, Kestrel, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Little egret, Little grebe, Little ringed plover, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Ringed plover, Robin, Sand martin, Sanderling, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Turnstone, Water rail, Whimbrel, Wigeon, 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!