By late June, most of the resident and migrant birds are busy tending to their hungry chicks. Some species have already bid farewell to their first broods of young. I thought I would just bring you up to speed on how some of our reedbed specialists are getting on. Firstly, after we had a fantastic six booming bitterns earlier on in the year, we now have at least three nests on the reserve. The adults can now be seen commuting back and forward across the reedbed in feeding flights.
Our marsh harriers are also doing very well. There are around thirteen nests on the reserve this yeat, which is even better than last year, when a total of twenty six young were raised out of ten sucessful nests. The first young marsh harriers have just started appearing this week, so lets hope there are plenty of them! As previously reported, there are around one hundred and ten pairs of bearded tit on the reserve this year. The first broods of youngsters are already out, so if you are lucky, you might see family parties of bearded tits roaming around the reeedbed.
There has been slightly mixed fortunes for the two pairs of cranes that nest on the reserve. Unfortunately, one pair lost their young several weeks ago. However, the other pair, "Little" and "Large" as they are known have still got two young, and in several weeks, fingers crossed these birds will fledge. Therefore, we may have a family of cranes flying around the reserve, and if last year is anything to go by, the birds will start being seen fairly regularly.
In other news, our golden orioles are still present on the reserve. However, despite our best efforts, nobody knows for certain a) how many birds we have and b) whether there are any nests on the reserve. So if you have been to the reserve recently, and have any infomation on these elusive birds, we would be very grateful if you could let us know!
There have also been some good mammal sightings on the reserve recently. Amazingly, a common seal was reported swimming along the river on the evening June 8th. Apparently, this individual had been seen previously further west along the Little Ouse towards Ely. This is a truly unexpected first for the reserve. There have bee several sightings of our elusive resident otters recently. They can be seen at any time of day, but early morning in and around New Fen North, the first large area of reedbed that you get to, seems to be the best place. A badger was also photographed early in the morning on June 24th. This is a fantastic record for another elusive mammal.
I always get a great feeling when people come to the reserve and actually see some of the rare birds that we have here. This has certainly been the case recently with our resident bitterns. As I mentioned in one of my recent blog entries, at this time of year, bitterns will occassionally indulge in some display flying. This outstanding behaviour involves several birds circling high over the reedbeds and can last for up to ten minutes at times. If you are just use to seeing bitterns dashing low over reedbeds in brief flights witnessing this behaviour may come as a shock.
It has been a bumper year for bitterns displaying, up to six have been counted in the air at the same time and early in the morning on Saturday 5th June I was leading a guided walk and we were marvelling at four displaying for around ten minutes! I strongly recommend you come and see our brilliant bitterns for yourself.
In other news we have around one hundred and ten pairs of bearded tit nesting on the reserve this year. This is incredible considering they first nested here in 2004! Quite a few of the pairs have already had their first brood of young so family parties can now be encountered at various points on the reserve. There are around ten marsh harrier nests again this year which is another fantastic achievement considering there was only one nesting pair in the whole country in 1971!
Last but by no means least a peregrine was seen hunting over the washland on Tuesday June 8th which is unusual for this time of year. Also,two cape teal were photographed on the washland on Saturday June 5th. These birds are usually encountered on their breeding grounds in Sub-Saharan Africa so these birds had either down a runner to get away from all of the hype surrounding the World Cup or in a more likely set of circumstances, they had escaped from a local wildlifowl collection. Regardless of how they got here, they added a bit of colour to the reserve!
Its been a great time to see bitterns recently, six were in the air together 28 May. The two seen together today were mobbed by a marsh harrier, they fought back, stabbing at the harrier with their beaks. A pair of spotted flycatchers are in Trial Wood and the moulting male garganey is still on the washland.
Variable damselfly was a new record for the reserve.