It's only the second week in July, yet we've already seen lots of waders through the reserve. But it's a bad sign. The jetstream that has dumped the foul weather on southern Britain over recent weeks (because it's much farther south than usual) has left Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen and even western Scotland very dry. Too dry for waders that need pools. Because pools are full of insect larvae that feed their chicks. So, many of the waders that passed through Conwy in May have already headed back south without breeding successfully.
Most numerous have been the black-tailed godwits, with counts of up to 60 earlier in the week, and still 47 this morning - thanks to Aled Williams who posted this great photo of them on our Facebook page. The summer-plumage knot is still around, often with the godwits at high tide, small groups of dunlins on the estuary still have their black bellies of breeding plumage. A greenshank was here on Monday, the same day that three little ringed plovers were last seen, and these breeding birds may now have moved south.
The male scaup was here until Wednesday at least, though it does go missing for extended periods, so may still be here. Most of the herons and egrets in Benarth Woods have now fledged, so there are plenty of both species around the reserve: 62 little egrets this morning was a good count. A redstart (or quite possibly two) was seen on Tuesday and Wednesday, a sign of the songbird breeding season coming to an end in the surrounding woodland, while five grey wagtails in the Afon Ganol on Wednesday were presumably a family party moving downstream after successful breeding.
The two oystercatcher chicks that hatched last weekend are doing well on the island in front of the boardwalk screen, while there are new broods of 6 mallard and 6 moorhen chicks, and the two great crested grebe chicks are now over half the size of the adults as they enter their fifth week.
It's been another poor week for butterflies, though a small tortoiseshell on Sunday was something of a rarity here. When the sun does break through, the dragonflies get on the wing fairly rapidly, and we've watched emperors and broad-bodied chasers over the ponds this week. Quite a few visitors have asked us about the yellow flowers, superficially like buttercups, on long stems. It's yellow-wort, distinctive because the leaves grow completely around the stem (see here for more info). The weather forecast looks much better this weekend, so get out and enjoy it!