After the excitement of some of our first migrants arriving, including sand martins, swallows and chiffchaffs, it seems that in the dull weather today, that everything has gone quiet. Even the seemingly omnipresent chiffchaffs have either passed through or just stopped singing. However, if you look carefully, there is still plenty to see.
A peregrine was seen from Joist Fen viewpoint yesterday afternoon, interacting with the local marsh harriers. Our bitterns seem to be finally finding their voices, and some fully booming has now been heard. The latest count indicates that there may be as many of four grunting/ booming males. As the sun was out yesterday afternoon, we were starting to count bearded tit territories. We were slightly concerned that they may have been affected by the cold weather in November & December. However, there seemed to be plenty around in New Fen North (the 1st area of reedbed) which is a great sign.
The next migrants that we can expect to arrive here are garganeys (they are much later than last year), sedge warblers and blackcaps. We may even get small numbers of yellow wagtails passing through from the first week of April onwards and who knows, we may even get a passing osprey flying along the river Little Ouse! As ever, we will keep you up to date with sightings as and when they occur!
On Saturday afternoon, there were plenty of interesting birds to see on the reserve. Marsh harriers were wheeling around in front of Joist Fen viewpoint, and several males were displaying at close quarters. A bittern had a brief flight across the channel in front of the viewpoint, and a mixed group of hirundines flew over. This consisted of mainly sand martins, along with small numbers of swallows and even one house martin.
Just as we were about to lock up at 5pm, we were treated to the awesome sight of a red kite flying very low east over the visitor centre. This was an unexpected treat at the end of the day, as these birds are still pretty rare in these parts. A few more swallows moved through yesterday, and there seemed to be even more chiffchaffs present.
A bittern was heard producing almost a full boom, and the red kite was again reported flying along the riverbank beyond Joist Fen viewpoint. A kingfisher was in New Fen North, and a little egret was on the washland. Who knows what will turn up next?
I've been in the North Pennines all week, and apart from a wheatear near Hadrians Wall on Thursday, summer migrants were notable by their absence, and I didn't see a single chiffchaff. However, as I headed further south yesterday, I started hearing that characteristic two-tone song. I heard singing birds at RSPB Old Moor and in Clumber Park.
I arrived back in Suffolk early this morning, and was treated to the sound of one singing its heart out right in the centre of Lakenheath village. As I got to the reserve, these charming little warblers were everywhere, both singing and flitting around the bushes near the riverbank. A sand martin was also whizzing around over the washland, which was nice to see.
There has been plenty of crane activity over the last week, so a trip down to Joist Fen viewpoint could be worthwhile. As Steve reported, we now have three grunting male bitterns, so this may lead to more frequent sightings of these elusive birds. Several marsh harriers can be seen floating over the reedbeds, and bearded tits are still being seen regularly.
The beautiful spring weather has prompted even the most jaded birdwatchers into dusting off their binoculars for the new season. The equinox on March 20th means there is now more day than night in a 24-hour period. Birds are singing, the trees are leafing and hibernating birders feel the power returning to their 'focus-wheel finger' after a long winter.
At least one, of the now three grunting bitterns, has stepped up and produced something that could be classed as a proper boom. Marsh harriers have been taking advantage of the fine weather: six, seven, eight birds soaring on the same thermal. The males can regularly be seen throwing themselves around the sky in spectacular display. Three chiffchaffs are now singing and a single swallow was over the reedbed 24th March. Two avocets paused on the washland for an hour or so 23rd March, en route to the North Norfolk coast no doubt. Thirty golden plover flew over the same day.
A walk around the reserve should produce both brimstone and peacock if the weather is fine. An otter was seen well and photographed from the Joist Fen Viewpoint 21st March. Toads are quite numerous at the moment and the first grass snake of the year basked in the sunshine 22nd March.
We have been waiting for a week or so now for our first summer migrants to arrive and finally, some have come. On Monday afternoon, a chiffchaff was flitting around near the visitor centre pond. One has spent the winter on the reserve, so this bird might not necessarily have been a summer migrant. However, the sand martin that was seen over Joist Fen this morning was definitely a summer migrant.
The chilly weather and poor visibility hasn't made watching wildlife particularly easy over the last few days. However, both pairs of cranes are around, and are being seen fairly regularly from Joist Fen viewpoint. Several marsh harriers can be seen hunting from Joist Fen viewpoint, and if you are lucky, you may hear the distinctive pinging calls of bearded tits.
Even in the dull weather, many of our resident birds are still singing their hearts out. There are still five species of thrush present, and three of them can be heard singing from the visitor centre. A blackbird can be heard near the big willow, and both mistle and song thrush can be heard trying to out sing each other near the car park. Several redwings are still around and large numbers of fieldfares can be seen heading north, delivering their chuckling calls as they go.
The water levels have dropped on the washland pool, and this has provided perfect feeding habitat for up to six little egrets, and up to ten redshanks. A single female pintail was present yesterday, along with small numbers of shovelers, wigeons and teals. It is worth scanning this pool carefully at this time of the year, as our first male garganey of last year arrived a year ago today!