Its been a while since I blogged about anything to do with the island and with the weather looking increasingly unsettled over the next few days, now seems like as good a time as any.
The breeding season is well and truly wrapped up and as such attention turned to migrant waders and summering spoonbills. The island did not disappoint, with some aggressive management of the water levels the island is a hotbed of migrant waders with the period from late July to August producing a good sprinkling of scarce waders and some very good numbers of common waders.
The first returning spotted redshanks and curlew sandpipers where recorded on the 23rd of July with 3 stunning summer plumage spot reds and 1 curlew sandpiper. Curlew sands have then been almost daily throughout the period with numbers peaking at an impressive 25 in early September. The first little stints appeared on the 21st of August with numbers peaking at 7 on the 23rd of August. Ruff passage has also been impressive, normally a rare bird on the island 3 have been summering on main lagoon. No doubts as a consequence of the dry conditions at other wetland sites. A personal highlight for me was a Green sandpiper on Belpers on the 22 of July, followed by three flying over on the same date.
Numbers of avocets have been steady at well over 600, along with over a 100 dunlin, over 300 redshanks, over a 100 black tailed godwits and scatterings of greenshanks, ringed plovers, sanderlings (another normally rare bird on the island) and bar tailed godwits. The first Snipe was flushed the other day and Common Sandpipers have been present throughout August.
The summering flock of Spoonbills took some time arriving, with numbers building up slowly from the 13th of July 2011, staying at 12 throughout late July and early August before peaking at 18 on the 23rd of August, soon after the flock relocated to Orfordness, leaving us with only two.
We’ve had the first scattering of passerine migrants with yellow wagtails passing through the island, the first wheatears, a Sedge warbler (the 1st for 5 years) and Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers.
A sure sign of the season changing is the arrival of a Kingfisher and the first wintering Robin, in addition Wigeon’s, Teals and Pintails have all started to build up on main lagoon. An unexpected highlight last week was a little gull, the first for three years and only the 26th ever record for the island.
It’s been a busy time for visitor events on the island with two open weekends and the Havergate adventure all taking place in August. All can be considered more or less a success, with over 500 people enjoying a trip out to the island over all the events. The Life+ project has also continued unabated with numerous visits from contractors and design consultants as we move inexorably closer to work starting in October.