It's been another great week for working on the reserve and you can really now get the sense that things are changing. There's been some great Dawn Choruses on the reserve already, with Blackbirds, Robins and Song Thrushes all trying to outdo each other. Chiffchaffs are singing in several areas of the reserve and even a Blackcap or two is having a try. Butterflies have been notable this week, particularly the Brimstone (3 seen in Loxtons alone on Thursday morning), but also Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral.
Bitterns are, of course, booming much more readily, with the early mornings the best time to catch the most booming activity. Flights too are being seen - although nothing too significant as yet. One bird was seen to be chasing another from the first viewing platform this morning and 2 seen in flight from the Loxtons screen on Thursday. This type of activity should increase over the coming weeks. Also this morning from the 1st viewing platform; the ringed Great White Egret coming into his breeding plumage, a juvenile male Marsh Harrier and what was believed to be a female through the haze. A female was also seen in Loxtons on Thursday morning - although there has been a noticeable drop in the sightings of Marsh Harrier at Ham Wall recently, which is a shame - but maybe this will pick up again over the coming weeks.
Earlier in the week along the railway line several Bullfinches were seen along with a Green Woodpecker, small groups of Redwing and 13 Redpolls on Weds in the usual Alders between the rail path and Loxtons (good for treecreeper here too). Last Weekend (after the last blog for sightings) 26 Black-tailed Godwits flew over heading for Shapwick - probably the scrape there, where 2 Long-billed Dowitchers have been seen. Also a pair of Pintails from the first viewing platform and 2 Jays flying around Loxtons.
Duck numbers have fallen steadily although 2 Wigeon were spotted along with a group of around 30 Teal, 6 Tufted Duck and 2 Pochard on Wednesday, in an area in the north of the reserve (really good numbers of Snipe spotted here too). Good numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck remain in and around Waltons, along with several Lapwing, which have paired off in suitable breeding areas around the reserve (a few Snipe here also).
Elsewhere on the reserve this week: Kingfishers seen both from the old railway bridge and the main drain in front of the first viewing platform, Barn Owl seen flying at 11.30am in the east of the reserve - this would have been visible from the second viewing platform, Ravens, Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Buzzard, Water Rail in front of Loxtons screen and a female Goosander which popped into Loxtons during the week - captured on camera by John Crispin:
Starlings have all but done their thing now for this year and so the Avalon Marshes Starling Hotline is officially closed - it was very well used this year with literally thousands of people phoning in.
With the wintering birds moving off, we await our summer visitors: soon the sky will be full of Sand and House Martins and Swallows with the the Swifts and Hobbys to follow. The reedbed will then come alive with the chattering of Reed and Sedge Warblers and who knows what other surprise visitors - exciting times indeed! Have a good weekend everybody!