It’s fair to say we haven’t done badly for good birds recently, with the first curlew sandpiper in three years, bar and black-tailed godwits, jack snipe, nuthatch, brambling and several bittern records being the highlights.
This week has been no exception, with another good wader, more winter migrants pouring in, plenty of birds still on passage, large flocks of golden plover and the start of the starling murmurations….
The first redwings of the winter made an appearance on Tuesday, with around 70 birds moving over in the afternoon in three flocks. The influx continued for the rest of this week, with hundreds going over each day. They are feeding on hawthorn berries in the scrub block in the south west corner of the Cromwell Trail (where you come down the slope through the scrub block), so look out for them here.
There is a flock of around 2000 golden plover in the vicinity, with small groups moving around the area regularly. They often fly over Langford and sometimes can be seen on the deck with lapwing on the Phase 1 islands. The largest flock so far over the site comprised 500-600 birds on Wednesday afternoon, however, we were lucky enough to see at least 1500 to the south of the site at the end of last week.
Good numbers of meadow pipits and skylark are moving over and grey wagtail seem to be present in larger numbers than usual.
Volunteers Rob Werran and Nick Shimwell have started regular weekly starling roost counts (thanks guys!) and counted a peak of 2200 birds last weekend. This number should grow over the next few weeks and we hope for totals of well into the thousands by December.
Bittern and marsh harrier sightings are still regular, with bitterns seen on silt lagoon 4 (the long thin one on your left as you walk north towards the Beach Hut) – thanks to Graham Gamage for this, on Phase 1 by the dipping platform and on the reedy island to the south of the Cromwell Trail. Marsh harriers are best viewed from the southern part of the Cromwell Trail, looking south over Phase 2.
And the highlight of this week, another good wader for Langford…. a little stint, present on Monday and Tuesday on the small islands in Phase 1. I initially found the bird on it’s own on Monday morning, however it was then seen later on in the day and on Tuesday with dunlin. A lovely looking juvenile, it was a welcome site tick for some! This is only the third little stint on site in 8 years.
Little stint. Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
I was joined by volunteers Rob Werran and Nick Shimwell on Wednesday for the monthly WeBS count. October is always a good time of year, as migration is still in progress, with passage birds and winter visitors arriving. The morning’s results are as follows –
116 tufted duck
1 pintail – female at the southern end of the site.
Many of the ducks are coming out of eclipse plumage now and are looking stunning. It is certainly one of the best times of year to appreciate the fine plumage of male wildfowl.
18 mute swan
156 greylag goose
2 canada goose
15 moorhen – a large number of moorhens for this site
6 great crested grebe – the late youngster that hatched in September is doing well
2 little grebe
5 grey heron
5 little egret
1 bittern – so nice to see these regularly at the moment
35 snipe – good numbers starting to build for the winter
3 green sandpiper
1 water rail
95 black-headed gull
1 common gull
1 lesser black-backed gull