Gannet by Elizabeth Dack


A largely fine and dry week with cool nights and early mornings, with some decent early autumn heat to be enjoyed when the sun shines.

The star bird of the week has to go to the immature gannet that flew over the Reception Hide towards Brundall then veered North and presumably went North to the coast again. This was only the second record for the reserve, so quite oddly was far less common than the two American pectoral sandpipers that remain at Buckenham! The pectoral sandpipers have been very faithful to the pool in front of the hide for over two weeks now, I am told that at least one bird flew to Tower Hide, but quickly returned to its preferred wet grassland habitat. Three great white egrets were seen from Reception Hide on Thursday morning, with singles seen on Saturday and Sunday.

A flock of bearded tits has finally appeared at Sandy Wall and Reception hide! They must have read my previous blog saying that we may not get many sightings due to poor breeding and decided to prove me wrong, I’m glad they did. The flock has been very hard to catch up with, but an estimate of 40 birds are roving the reedbed, a nice calm clear morning is best for viewing the flock…and you will need a little bit of luck on your side too. The flock has been seen at Reception and Fen Hide, as well as the ’usual’ position at the river end of Sandy Wall.

The first hints of visible migration from Scandinavia occurred on Wednesday with a brambling wheezing over Sandy Wall, at least 12 redwings, eight fieldfare and a couple of siskins were also on the move. This is bang on migration time for redwings so you should be able to hear them flying over your gardens at night in the coming weeks, wherever you are. Meadow pipits have also been fairly steady throughout the week, but not in any great numbers.

The usual fen species are mainly still present and being seen regularly; bitterns have been seen infrequently in flight from Reception and Fen hides, kingfishers have been seen feeding well on the calmer days in front of Fen Hide. Red Kites, hobbies and buzzards have all been seen regularly throughout the week, they are especially enjoying the warm days with a breeze. At least one otter has been seen near daily on the reserve from various locations, however Reception appears to be the top spot at the moment.

Wildfowl are present at the fen in good numbers with gadwall and mallards now out of eclipse plumage and much more readily identifiable, teal are a little slower to catch up and still have their female look to the plumage. The garganey has not been reported for a couple of weeks now, so it does appear to have finally made the journey South to Africa.

The woodland has seen some fairly large tit flocks throughout the wood. While goldcrests, blackcaps and chiffchaffs are making an obvious movement south within these tit flocks.

The warm sunny conditions on Thursday brought out an invertebrate bonanza with many migrant hawkers and common darters feasting on a large hatch of choronomids. This year willow emerald damselflies appear to be everywhere, so they were clearly unaffected by the cold spring temperatures and a keen on advancing their territory. A  huge ‘loveliness’ of ladybirds (yes I did look that collective noun up!) were swarming all over the office buildings on Thursday too, mostly appearing to be harlequins. The second brood of brimstone butterflies made an appearance in the woodland, these fresh butterflies will feed in the autumn and overwinter as adults to emerge once again on the first few warm days of spring.

All trails are still open, however we did receive our first proper flooding of autumn on Tuesday and Wednesday. The riverbank path and Lackford Run were partially under water so it may be a little soft in places for a short while.

(There will be no update for a few weeks as I will be on annual leave, apologies)