This week has seen the first of the cool nights of autumn, the days however have been largely fine and dry. We are expecting one last push of warm air from the south in the next few days so it will be interesting to see what that brings.
The highlights from the past week are as follows;
Osprey- we have had at least two ospreys, maybe more hanging around for the past three weeks. These birds are passing through on their migration from Scotland heading towards Senegal and Gambia, where they spend the winter months. It is very hard to say whether we are seeing the same ospreys or if we are just seeing them as they are migrating south. In any case, ospreys have been seen daily for the past three weeks, they have been seen very well from all hides and trails including fishing from Reception and Tower Hides.
Osprey (Elizabeth Dack)
Otter- we have had a family of three otters seen very regularly from Reception Hide, it appears as though the mother is teaching her two cubs how to fish in the broad and at times can be visible for several hours at a time. There is no real pattern to their appearances, however they do seem to favour the mid to late afternoon period.
Kingfisher- We have seen a sudden increase in kingfisher activity, this appears to be adults and possibly juveniles as well, they have been seen from across the reserve, wherever there is water, again Reception Hide is a hot spot.
Bearded tits- We have a small flock of ‘beardies’ on the reserve, this flock of 15-20 has been seen on the Sandy Wall side of the reserve; from Reception and Fen Hide, as well as Sandy Wall. Although it is not quite as impressive in number as past years, it is encouraging to see an increase in the population and with patience and good conditions (calm and sunny) excellent views can be obtained.
Great white egret - between one and three have been present on and off throughout the past few weeks, they do seem to favour Tower Hide, the Lackford Run pool and the first pool along the riverbank.
Bearded tits (Elizabeth Dack)
Jack snipe- A Jack snipe has been in front of Reception Hide this week, first seen on Tuesday and then again on Friday. It may have been lurking in the undergrowth all week, this cryptically patterned wader often gives itself away by its near continuous bobbing action, it also has a shorter bill than common snipe as well as a black eyebrow and beautiful cream and green stripes on its back.
We have been busy cutting in front of the hides, this allows far more to be seen and will hopefully encourage better views of birds such as snipe, jack snipe, bittern, otter, water rail and bearded tit, just to name a few. I have cut slightly more than usual in front of Fen Hide to expose a ditch on the right of the hide, I hope that by cutting this ditch we will be rewarded with more sightings of bittern and bearded tits feeding. The long cut viewpoints from Fen Hide should be cut between now and early October, so there may be a few days disturbance while this is being carried out.
There are currently some flood protection works happening along Sandy Wall, this means that during the week the section of Sandy Wall between the ‘Gnarly Oak’ and Fen Hide junction will be closed. For the past two weekends the whole reserve has been open as usual without any closures, but during the week there will be a diversion through the meadow trail and up the wooden ramp to access Fen Hide and the riverbank. It is worth noting that this trail through the meadow is an unmade earth/grass track and may be unsuitable for some users. We hope that the works will be complete by mid-October, but they are already ahead of schedule so it could end sooner, please follow signs in place on the trails when visiting.
The reserve is still bursting with life, with butterflies, dragonflies and many bird species present, if you are lucky you may see an osprey fishing, watch otters learn to catch fish, hear the pinging of bearded tits as well as having a pleasant walk around the reserve in the early autumn sunshine.
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