The last couple of days have been a welcome relief for us (and no doubt the wildlife) on the reserve and the water levels will soon reduce to a more suitable level. For the moment however, Loxtons Trail remains closed due to the flooded paths but the rest of the reserve is open as normal.
The Great White Egrets continue to be the stars of the show and are feeding for long periods in front of the 1st platform. All 3 juvenile birds were seen there on Thurdsay as well as adult birds, although on one occasion a youngster was told, in no uncertain terms not to land and feed here, by a lone adult and soon changed its mind and flew off elsewhere.
Bitterns can too be seen on a daily basis although, as Bitterns tend to do, do not make themselves quite as obvious as their large white cousins. However, the first platform lends itself to good views both in front and over Waltons and tends to be the one of the best spots.
Marsh Harriers too are about daily, both Male & Female and the vista from the 1st platform again gives good views even if the birds are hunting on the north of the reserve although a lovely looking male was seen close in on Thursday. Other birds of prey this week include: Sparrowhawk (reported most days), Buzzards (several daily sightings), Kestrel seen from the rail path just beyond the 1st platform on Weds and Hobby (1 or 2 seen on the reserve everyday).
Small numbers of Swift, House Martins and Swallows can also be seen daily and a Cuckoo was seen on Sunday, although I haven't seen or heard one myself now for a good 10 or more days (I guess their work here is done).
Kingfishers have ben very busy at our known nest site and 3 were seen together on Monday. We thought this could be a fledgling but the adults have been very busy all week in and out so maybe not what we initially thought (they cant be far of it though). Best spots are: the rail path bridge and Waltons.
Other birds this week include: 2 Goldeneye (male & female) reported on Tuesday, Bullfinches along the rail path, Spotted Flycatcher too (including this morning near the entrance gate), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jays daily (not always in public areas), Bearded Tits (several juveniles), but again not in public areas, a young Moorhen being gobbled up by a Lesser Black Back Gull on the Waltons rafts, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe with young from the Waltons screens and Little Egrets. A very small Starling flock c2000 or so continues to roost at Ham Wall - a reminder of what's to come in a few months!
We have cut in front of the Waltons screen this week and really opened up the views for visitors - the viewing slots are now not obscured. Whilst doing so, had great views of both Emperor Dragonfly and a newly emerged male Southern Hawker. I tried to take a picture but it was too bright (didn't think i'd say that) to get a great image on the camera we had. However I was sent this image of the very same dragonfly the same day by volunteer Paul Marsh - thanks Paul:
Other dragonflies seen this week include: Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Blue Tailed Damselfly & Common Blue Damselfly.
Butterflies again are almost notable by their absence but have recorded the following species this week: Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Green Veined White & Ringlet. Scarlet Tiger Moth also seen around the Waltons Trail today.
Other Wildlife: Still lots of small froglets being seen (Common Frog), Marsh Frogs heard, Smooth Newt and Common Toad also seen when moving our pontoon blocks ready for bridge building to access islands for reed cutting. 1 or 2 Field Voles also spotted scurrying about. Roe deer can be seen on the reserve on most days often sitting or grazing along the grassy tracks. Thanks to John Crispin for the following photo taken this week of a Roe Buck.
Finally, as previously blogged about our eel pass seems to be doing well with well over 120 eels captured and released into Ham Wall since we started. Took a quick shot of one of this weeks catches - 11 eels on Thursday. Once the seaason is over I will give a full report, but nice to have such success.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine - it's been a long time coming!