It seems that wader passage has started here at Langford - although we can't quite compete with what has turned up on the east coast in the last few days! This morning Beach Hut volunteer Dave Roberts picked up 4 green sandpipers on silt lagoon 5 (2nd northern most, please view from public footpath only). One of these birds was an obviously very young juvenile, so has flown from wherever it has hatched very soon after fledging. This is a good number of green sands for Langford, usually this species is only seen in ones and twos.
Also today, a wader flying with a group of c.30 lapwing seen briefly by Dave and myself proved to be a ruff on later inspection. This is Langford's second ruff this year and first on return passage. Ruff is a nice record here and a species we get less than annually, so good to record the second for 2014.
I had a whimbrel on silt lagoon 5 last Thursday, with another seen over the weekend. Again, a nice bird for Langford, with less than 5 records annually.
Things will hopefully keep on dropping in over the next few weeks, so please do keep a close eye on muddy edges!
At least 5 clouded yellows, probably more, have been seen today - the best places to spot these are on the southern edge of the Cromwell trail and the grassland in front of the Beach Hut. It looks like we may enjoy a repeat of last year, with clouded yellow numbers looking good already. And purple hairstreaks are showing well on the ash tree above the information board near the car park. Take this opportunity to have a look at this normally canopy dwelling species. They seem to come fairly low down on this tree, giving great views.
And finally, the bittern was seen again for the third time on Saturday, flying from the same fringe of reed next to the dipping platform and into silt lagoon 6. Keep looking!
Perhaps one of the most striking things about Langford at the moment is the abundance of insects on the wing. A mild winter, followed by a warm spring and early summer has produced excellent numbers of butterflies and Odonata, as well as many other invertebrates. It is encouraging to see this after the relatively low numbers we have been seeing in the last few years. The large numbers of butterflies in particular was proven yesterday, when I recorded the highest number of individuals on a butterfly transect since 2011. The results of yesterday's transect are as follows -
101 peacock - an incredible number of this species, I have never seen so many at Langford
17 meadow brown
14 large white
9 speckled wood
7 green-veined white
10 unidentified white species
5 unidentified skipper species
We also have purple hairstreak on the wing now - look for them on the ash tree above the information boards at the woodland entrance. Common blues are now out in their second generation, as are small copper. Painted lady has been recorded this week and there is also always the possibility of clouded yellow.
The most common Odonata species out at the moment include common blue and blue-tailed damselflies, black-tailed skimmer, emperor, brown hawker and southern hawker. Look out for the first migrant hawkers appearing soon too.
And a bit of bird news....pleasingly, the bittern was seen again from the Beach Hut yesterday (Tuesday 22nd). It emerged from the same fringe of reeds to the left of the pond dipping platform and flew over to the northern most silt lagoon. A common sandpiper was on Phase 1, viewable from the visitor trails yesterday, a kingfisher was seen by Beach Hut volunteer Dave Roberts from the Cromwell trail and I heard another from the first silt lagoon near the woodland and a greenshank was heard calling from the Beach Hut this afternoon. A yellow-legged gull was on silt lagoon 5 yesterday afternoon, with a group of 32 lesser black-backed gulls and black-headed gulls. A nice looking adult bird and one we always look out for in July. Silt lagoon 5 is the second northern most as you walk up to the Beach Hut and is viewable from the public footpath only.
Just a quick one for today to let everyone know that we have had a bittern sighting early this afternoon! The bird flew from the reed fringe to the left of the pond dipping platform (as viewed from the Beach Hut) and dropped into silt lagoon 6 - the northern most lagoon with the large reed block. The bird appeared very pale in colouration, similar to a pale bird that we had back in 2011, so should be quite distinctive if seen again. It is excellent and very encouraging to see a bird using these fringes of reed that are developing around the banks of Phase 1.
This is the first bittern sighting on site since the end of February and most welcome after such a length of time - who knows, it may have been here all along! Many thanks must go to Beach Hut volunteer John Totterdill for spotting the bird.
Please do keep an eye open when at the Beach Hut and walking the trails and do let us know if you see it.