One of the things I love most about watching wildlife is that you never quite know what you are going to see - often there is a nice surprise waiting for you when you get out there and start looking. And Langford is certainly no exception to this, as in the last week we have caught up with an elusive wader, glimpsed a secretive scrub dweller and welcomed back an old friend….
The first surprise of the week came on Wednesday as I made my way up to Phase 1 and passed the new landscaping on the old silt lagoon 7. There is often a large collection of gulls loafing on the islands and it’s always worth a quick scan. However amongst the 300+ black headed and common gulls, I spotted a small flock of lapwing accompanied by 16 golden plover. Golden plover have proved very elusive at Langford this winter, with 2-3 small flocks being seen flying over early in the winter, but none since, making it great to see this pretty little wader using the site.
Also on Wednesday I took a walk around silt lagoon 6, hoping to hear that distinctive ‘pinging’ call of a bearded tit. However, whilst I had no luck with the beardies, I was entertained by not one, but two Cetti’s warblers singing away from the willow scrub and reedmace by the edge of the lagoon. Suddenly I saw movement in the vegetation in front of me, up went the binoculars and to my surprise there was a Cetti’s warbler, flitting through the stand of reed and reedmace in full view. An excellent encounter with this noisy, but very hard to spot species.
And the old friend and best news of the week….a bittern seen by Site Manager Michael Copleston on Thursday flying into silt lagoon 6. It’s very encouraging indeed to know that the site is still supporting wintering bittern after the re-development works. So keep an eye out from the public footpath and the viewing screen and do let us know if you spot the bird.
Other recent sightings include a jay by the woodland edge, marsh tit and coal tit still feeding with a large tit flock in the woodland and on Cottage Lane, a peregrine hunting over Phase 2 and a whopping 9 goldeneye, including 6 displaying males seen yesterday by Warden Paul Bennett and myself on silt lagoon 3.
It’s been a busy start to the new year here at Langford, as our contractors have now finished the re-development works on site and we have had our reserve volunteers back in getting stuck into some great jobs.
The first on the list was to get all our reed seedlings planted out on the newly landscaped areas. The volunteer Sunday work party made a great start on this on the 8th, getting around 3000 reeds planted. The weekday volunteers then finished off with another 2000 the week after, bringing the total planted to a whopping 5000. Well done to all involved.
We have started renovations on the old beach hut that has been moved to Phase 1 and will provide a base for staff and volunteers to have lunch or a quick cup of tea. The old fixtures and fittings have been taken out and the inside and outside given a fresh coat of paint.
Take a look from the Phase 1 viewing screen and you should see that we have extended the viewing channels that were cut a few weeks ago. This makes it even easier to see down into the reedbed now, giving you an even better chance to spot some great birds including water rail, snipe and perhaps that ever elusive bittern.
Recent wildlife sightings on site include little egrets, snipe and green sandpiper on Phase 2, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker and song thrush in the woodland, up to 30 tree sparrows by the Phase 1 viewing screen and a large flock of tits around the woodland edge and Cottage Lane. Look out for the regular species including blue, great and long tailed tits along with not one, but two marsh tits seen by Site Manager Michael Copleston at the weekend, two goldcrests and a Langford rarity….a coal tit, that I finally managed to catch up with yesterday after weeks of searching!
Overjoyed with the success of the recent engineering works at Langford, Site Manager Michael Copleston felt compelled to perform a ceremonial dance to celebrate.
He can be seen below with sand shamen Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss atop his sandy plinth of power.