WeBS has come round once again (seemed so quick this month!) and I treated myself to a walk around site doing the count this time, on a sunny, but very blustery day. It still seems quite quiet out on site at the moment in terms of wildfowl - there doesn't seem to have been much movement in yet, but the birds are looking stunning - males in their smart new plumage. Here are the results of Monday's count -
92 tufted duck
53 shoveler - good number for Langford
10 wigeon - hopefully more will build up over the winter
1 goldeneye - still just one female around, again more to come we hope!
13 mute swan
5 little egret
1 grey heron
1 little grebe - great to see this, I've not seen a little grebe on site since the summer
13 lapwing - where have they all gone!?
1 green sandpiper
429 black-headed gull
18 lesser black-backed gull
3 common gull
Also on site this week.... bittern/s continues to make an appearance occasionally, but you do have to be in the right place at the right time! The regular stonechat around the dipping platform is showing well - such lovely birds, fieldfare and redwing can be seen and heard overhead and there are still brambling in the wild bird seed crop opposite the car park. I was surprised to see a lot of black knapweed plants still in flower at the southern end of the site on Monday, which certainly brightened up the area, along with yarrow still very much in bloom and a hawkweed species.
Male goldeneye - should be arriving on site soon. Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
Thanks to Mike for this lovely image of a kingfisher to accompany his exhibition advert - go along!
At a time of year when most warblers are leaving for warmer climes, here at Langford we have been treated to the return of Cetti's warbler on site, after an absence of 18 months. With their explosively loud song, it is very noticeable when they aren't there, so imagine my delight when walking past the northernmost silt lagoon (the one behind the Beach hut) a couple of weeks ago and a bird let out a burst of their distinctive tune from the middle of the lagoon. And the good news is, that it is now possible that there may be two birds on site, after I heard a bird singing from silt lagoon 4 yesterday afternoon (the second one up from the car park). Do keep an ear open when walking the public footpath from the car park to the Beach Hut and please let us know of any records!
Cetti's warblers are birds of damp, scrubby areas, making the silt lagoons ideal for them, however they aren't easy to see due to their skulking and secretive nature! They are only recent colonists to the UK, first breeding here in 1973, with their main breeding populations in southern and central Europe and north Africa and an estimated UK population of 2000 males. Their scientific name, Cettia cetti, is reference to Italian naturalist Francesco Cetti, after which the species is named. Some populations are migratory, moving south in the non-breeding season, however populations in the UK are rather sedentary, meaning our birds will hopefully stay the winter.
Interestingly, they are the only passerine in the UK to have 10 tail feathers, instead of the usual 12.
Cetti's warbler. Photo courtesy of Terry Sherlock.