Easily audible to anyone who recognises it since March has been the cetti's warbler. This is the second ever time the bird has bred on the reserve - the last being in 2007 on North Marsh. The calls could be heard all over site back in March - this trail camera fortuitously picked up the piercing song which has been the soundtrack to Spring this year:
here. Every picture subsequently taken at the back to back hides showed the bird with a ring - which we assume denotes the same male ranging about as in this pic by Dave Ware:
And this bird is a first for the reserve. In spite of local nests in previous years they had yet breed on the reserve 'til this year. Birds prospecting the river Hull berm were first spotted by the team undertaking hedge laying way back in early March. Before long the birds were carrying nesting material into South Marsh West - again just yards from the cetti's warblers. We think this is largely a reflection of the poor growing year as the birds are thought to have nested in oilseed rape fields in recent years - all of which were stunted or reseeded this spring - therefore the birds came back to nature.
Whilst obviously there are a relatively good number of these birds now, few give views as close as the 50yds the nest is from the back to back hide. Needless to say the pictures we have had back have been stunning - many photographers have graciously kept their photos off the net to avoid attracting unwanted attention to the nest with eggs in, which we kept guarded with trail cameras covering entrance routes. There are a small selection of the best here and more to follow on individual blogs and Flickr no doubt - Roy Vincent:
It's been noted that the birds keep bringing material in - even though the chicks have now hatched. This is because the nest is on unstable reeds and is constantly being paddled down. This will continue until they fledge and currently outnumbers feeds by 5 to 1. Much material is being collected from grass snake heaps; and it is some wonder grass snake has not been caught yet. Richard Willison:
Tony McLean (more on his blog posting):
And Tony Simpson - rabbit:
Harriers aren't always welcome in these days of regression in attitudes to birds of prey - so for going public we wanted to convey the observations we were making to help the birds wider cause; that prey items were mainly rabbits, water voles and water bird chicks with no game predation. As such we have installed a register in the hide to record prey items returned. Obviously not all items are identifiable and this chart does not reflect unidentified - but in the first 9 days since hatching this is what we have found:
Great news indeed and if anyone wants to see them we'll be running guided walks down to the hide on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm each Saturday and Sunday until the 21st of July - meet in the car park free with standard admission.
In similar news we also suspect that two families of otters are on the go at the moment - one being in the shadow of the same hide yet again - a mother and two cubs. Andy Marshall got this picture of the female gathering bedding presumably being carried into the volunteer built holt three years ago: