After no bittern sightings for four months, I was very excited to finally glimpse one a couple of weeks ago on my monthly WeBS count. But one sighting every four months just isn’t enough of these secretive birds.
So imagine how good it felt this morning when I stepped out of the workshop and was greeted by the wonderful sight of a bittern flying over Phase 2 and into the reedy edge of the silt lagoons!
Could that moment have got any better? Well, yes actually….as the bittern made it’s way across the central track and disappeared off into the reed, a cetti’s warbler let out a burst of song from the scrub around silt lagoon 4. I first heard this bird yesterday afternoon and is the first record of the species on site since June – yet more encouraging news of another of our species birds.
More bird news from today includes 19 golden plovers flying south over Phase 2 – the first over the reserve this winter, 60 fieldfares on the public footpath on the southern boundary and a ‘ringtail’ hen harrier flying south along the Trent seen by Michael and a group of RSPB staff visiting Langford today.
And there are still a few red admiral butterflies and common darter dragonflies around on warm, sunny days and large queen wasps exploring the nooks and crannies in the workshop searching for somewhere suitable to spend the winter.
Paul Afford and his team are making good progress with the landforming, with silt lagoon 7 really starting to take shape.
A central 'spine' with various 'arms' coming off it has been created and will form one of the large islands where the reeds will be planted.
This is the all-important 'underwater topography' that gets mentioned whenever we lead guided walks here or visit groups to give illustrated talks.
The wooden pegs can be seen in the image below and mark out the 'spine' and the 'arms' which will be the high points within this part of the reedbed.
These areas will ultimately be dry reedbed (good for invertebrates), with the lower slopes covered in what's referred to as 'optimal reed', ideal for nesting and feeding bitterns.
It’s all change here at Langford as the re-development work on Phase 1 continues. With the weather still on our side, our contractors have now started work on silt lagoon 7. This is the first of the reedbed areas to be newly created and incorporated into the existing Phase 1.
But despite all the heavy machinery on site, there are still plenty of good birds around, as I discovered yesterday whilst doing the monthly Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Throughout the morning I counted –
74 tufted duck
11 mute swan
1 great crested grebe
2 green sandpiper
5 grey heron
2 little egret
15 black headed gull
6 wigeon – the first of the year to arrive back at Langford
It’s been 4 months since I’ve seen at bittern on site, so this was a well overdue glimpse of our star species. It is great to know that a bird is still present on site, despite the work on Phase 1.
Also on site this week we have a regular hunting kestrel along the central track, jays on the public footpath and in the woodland, the first of the winter thrushes have arrived with a flock of fieldfare seen by Michael on Sunday and the last of the year’s butterflies are still hanging on with several red admirals battling the windy conditions out on Phase 2 yesterday.