This autumn period has seen some fantastic wildlife, as always. It has certainly been a very good year for ospreys on the reserve. We had regular sightings of these fish eagles from September all the way through to 18 October. It is hard to say how many individuals were involved in this period as they all look so similar, but two were seen on several occasions and given the gaps between sightings, it is likely that at least five to eight individuals have been seen this autumn.
Osprey: Elizabeth Dack
A Jack snipe was seen on 17 September, this is a fairly early date for Strumpshaw and it was possibly the first Norfolk record this autumn, the bird spent just a few days in front of Reception Hide before either heading on or finding a less obvious spot on the reserve.
Great white egrets were once again well represented this autumn, regular sightings between September and October, particularly at Tower Hide, the peak was four feeding together on 23 October along with 10 grey herons and eight little egrets. Keeping with the egret theme, we also saw a cattle egret from 8-10 October, initially seen with the cattle in the meadows, before relocating to Buckenham.
Great white egrets: Elizabeth Dack
The final scarce bird of autumn worthy of note was a yellow browed warbler which was briefly seen on 10 October along Tinkers lane (technically not on the reserve) but was not relocated again.
A starling murmuration reached 3000 by late October, but almost as quick as it came it was gone again, there is still a chance that the birds will return to roost here before the year is out, but for now the numbers are in the low hundreds if you are lucky.
The marsh harrier roost has just started to get going now, with a peak of 25 coming in to roost so far, I would expect/hope that this figure will increase as the weather gets colder, especially as frosts begin.
Marsh harrier: Elizabeth Dack
Visible migration over the reserve was fairly good on the clear days throughout autumn, 23 October in particular seemed to be a good day for movement with 800 redwing, 240 fieldfare, 45 song thrush, 60 chaffinch, 4 brambling and a water pipit seen in half an hour before work and then 194 blackbirds coming into roost the following evening, showing what is out there when you look up! A ring ouzel was also seen on this date along the riverbank, giving itself up by its harsh chack calls.
Our kingfishers, bitterns, bearded tits and otters all remain present and showing well on occasion. Bearded tit numbers, were once again a little low with a peak flock of 12 noted, although I hope more are out there playing hard to get. So far we have had a peak of six water pipits, mainly in the Fen Hide area, but they appear to enjoy any of the cut plots dotted around the fen so keeping your ears open while walking around is always the key to connecting with this species
The wildfowl numbers at Strumpshaw Fen appear to be a bit ‘up and down’ at present with some days having lots of teal, mallard, gadwall and shovellers and on other days they have taken leave of the reserve. As the weather gets colder we should see the return of larger numbers of wildfowl at the fen.
Buckenham Marshes is beginning to provide a fine spectacle of wintering waders and wildfowl, recent counts of 1800 wigeon, 339 teal, 400 pink-footed geese 31 white-fronted geese, 480 Canada geese, 11 barnacle geese, 1300 lapwing as well as smaller numbers of ruff and black tailed godwit. So numbers are building nicely, we expect many more birds to arrive as the weather turns colder, particularly lapwing, golden plover and grey geese … we eagerly await the arrival of the taiga bean geese, which often arrive in late November. So if you want a lot of birds in one place, this is the place to go!
The reserve is currently all open, but the riverbank between Sandy Wall and the railway end of Lackford Run has been subject to much flooding already this season. Wellingtons are recommended if heading to Tower Hide, I would recommend the woodland/riverbank circuit via Fen Hide as being the more enjoyable option as far as walking currently goes, but the conditions change all the time so best to check in at Reception for the latest path news.
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