Winter arrived last weekend in the form of the returning bittern. It is believed this may be a first year bird and likely to be a dispersal from the Low Countries. The bird will likely remain on the reserve until March – so hopefully we will enjoy many more views of it to brighten up winter.
On this occasion it was seen at South Marsh West in the same location as the jack snipe, where Jess managed to get the only picture so far for Pink Cuckoos. It was more than likely seen flying around the North Marsh area mid week too – something to look for if and when the kingfishers move off!
Les and Margaret managed to find the first brambling this winter on the D woods feeders on Friday, along with two willow tits – photo here – and hopefully better to come:
In addition this stonechat (another Tophill year tick) delighted many over this weekend – giving great views on North Scrub (apart from when the sparrowhawk nearly got it!) – it looks a bit washed out being a first winter male:
Alan Walkington sent these great pics of it across also:
Otherwise the seven day highlights include:
Pintail last Saturday and today - D res.
Black tailed godwits last Saturday and on Friday – South Marsh East
Little gull last Saturday – D res.
Water rail on Tuesday – South Marsh West
Ringed plover, dunlin, and ruff on Wednesday – South Marshes
Black-necked grebe - Friday - on and off D res
Hen harrier (female) this afternoon - D res
Egyptian goose – this evening – D res
Mediterranean gull (adult) – this evening – D res
Otherwise there has been a big build up of wildfowl – lots of well marked wigeon:
Along with teal – which are looking good again after moult:
Shoveler and gadwall:
And increasing numbers of goldeneye:
This evening we undertook the first of 3 roost walks. The next two are book-able via Robert Fuller’s wildlife gallery – details here.
The gulls put on their usual spectacle, along with a few corvids, groups of starlings moving through, and a cracking 68 curlew over.
A visit to South Marsh East was the last stop to see the assembled geese coming in to roost. Unfortunately they decided not to arrive before we packed up at 6pm in any great numbers. However a bit of a commotion amongst the ducks followed by a tell-tale bow wave delighted everyone, when up appeared the otter, 30yds away. Whilst dark it was silhouetted nicely against the moonlit water running across the mud island in front of the hide (and was likely a female or cub on size) – so nobody was particularly miffed at having missed the feral greylags!
For more on the otters there is scheduled to be a TV piece upcoming on BBC Inside Out – currently thought to be broadcast on Monday the 14th – so one to watch.
In addition we continue to embrace modern media by staring off our Facebook page - see right>.
Finally apologies for the lack of updates in the last few days – I have been checking out some Welsh specialties:
Likewise Martin has acquired guru status after finding Portugal’s second ever pallid harrier at Sagres – all the details on his blog here, and Likewise Tony has been getting some alternative pictures in Holland here. And I anticipate Rory's Welsh kite pics will be on anytime soon here. Normal service resumed…