Bearded tit (by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Bearded tits have been particularly active recently; now is a great time of year to see them as young birds flock up in preparation to disperse and find new homes. Vange Marsh is the best place to see them at the moment, with flocks of 10 to 20 birds regularly seen along the reedbed path. Vange Marsh has been especially busy recently, with reserve staff starting the reedbed management for the year, cutting sections of reed to encourage new growth next year. This work is vital to help reedbed bird species, which need a diverse structure of reed to nest and feed in. Contractors have also been on site cutting vegetation on the main lagoon, this should benefit the waders which feed on the reserve, as well as providing easier viewing for visitors.

Other recent highlights include a great white egret and glossy ibis, both of which have been seen coming in to the egret roost at Pitsea Scrape, as well as occasionally on Bowers Marsh.

As the nights now start to draw in and the temperatures drop, wintering birds begin to return to the reserves. Winter has a distinctive sound on the reserves, from the ghostly squeaks and mews of hundreds of lapwing, to the whistling calls of the flocks of wigeon which make the South Essex Reserves their winter home. In the hedgerows, look out for winter thrushes such as redwings and fieldfares feasting on this year’s crop of berries.

Michael Poole - Assistant Warden

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