It's the start of a new WeBS year and the start of the most exciting time in the birding calendar - autumn migration. We have had a few good things through already, with the 24 blackwits being a highlight from last week. I completed the monthly WeBS this morning, with results as follows....
15 tufted duck
22 mute swan - plus 8 cygnets on site doing well
25 Canada goose
2 shelduck - brood of 8 young on site doing well
5 great crested grebe - still notably no young this year so far
7 little egret
4 grey heron
113 lapwing - good to see large numbers of lapwing on site
5 green sandpiper
1 little ringed plover
1 common sandpiper - a nice passage species, viewable from the eastern Cromwell Trail
1 black-tailed godwit - another individual passing through, viewable from the eastern Cromwell Trail and Beach Hut
105 black-headed gull
4 lesser black-backed gull
11 common tern
Many of the ducks are now in eclipse, moulting out their flight feathers. Now is also the time to look out for yellow-legged gulls. This species appears at Langford usually in June/July - look south from the new viewing screen with the flock of lesser black-backs and black-heads.
Some of the earlier flowering plants in the Phase 1 grasslands are going over, but there is still plenty of black knapweed in flower, which always proves popular with a wide variety of insects. Look out for six-spot and narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moths, silver Y moths, bumblebees, hoverflies including Episyrphus balteatus (the marmalade fly) and butterflies nectaring.
The Diptera (True Flies) are a fascinating group of insects, yet unfortunately not a group that I get much time to look at in detail. However, thanks to entomologist Richard Davidson, we have had some very interesting records recently.
The first and one of the most interesting is Melieria omissa. This is a picture-winged fly (Ulididae), named after their patterned wings. The species has been recorded previously on the Lincolnshire coast and on the Humber, but to our knowledge, not this far down the Trent. They are associated with wet vegetation, the females laying their eggs in the stems of waterside plants.
Prosena siberita is a member of the Tachinidae - they parasitize beetles of the Scarabaeidae (such as the garden chafer, of which we have a healthy population here). The nearest known records of this species are from west Norfolk.
Phaonia cincta is a Muscid fly, whose larva live in rot holes in trees. The nearest known records of this species to Langford are from Cambridgeshire.
Oplodontha viridula is a soldier fly of the Family Stratiomyidae. They are a stunning little insect, with bright lime green colouration on the abdomen. They are associated with wetlands, often to be found in reedbeds - great to know we are attracting yet more reedbed species.
And finally, a Dolichopodid fly Neurigona quadrifasciata - yet another (to our knowledge), first for Nottinghamshire.
Many thanks to Richard for all his efforts - keep them coming!
We have undeniably had one of the best springs for waders on site in recent years, after a string of good sightings including little stint, spotted redshank, ruff and the star of the show - our red-necked phalarope. However, it now looks like the autumn may be off to a good start as well, with a black-tailed bonanza on site this week.
On Tuesday, I was treated to a fabulous view of 19 black-tailed godwits down on Phase 3, all still in breeding plumage. And what a stunning bird they are too, with their orange colouration, contrasting with the black and white of the upperwings and rump and tail area and the yellow base to the bill. There was also however, a bird on Phase 1, viewable from the southern edge of the Cromwell Trail, looking north onto the large island. Later that evening, our Conservation Officer Carl Cornish had 24 in the same area, improving on my total by 4. The birds were still around the next day too, with a flock of 10 seen by volunteer Stuart Carlton and then 17 over the visitor trails that evening, again reported by Carl.
This is certainly the highest number of blackwits I've ever known on site - a joy to see such lovely birds!
Also in the last week, we are very pleased to announce the success of breeding avocet on site. 4 young have now fledged and are moving around the site with their parents. Keep an eye open for them looking south from the new viewing screen. This is only the second ever successful avocet breeding on site, the first being in 2011.
And the waders don't stop there either - there were a whopping 7 green sandpipers across the site earlier this week (again, the highest number I've ever known here) and last week's wood sandpiper was still hanging around on Sunday, delighting visitors at the viewing screen.
Here's to the rest of the autumn!
Not our bonanza, but it looked very much like this! Gordon Langsbury (rspb-images.com)
Avocet - a pleasure to have these successfully breed on site. Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)