Arctic Tern became the latest species to appear on the reserve this year - that's 151 so far (exactly one ahead of where we were at the end of April last year, stat fans). So what next? Cuckoo should be due soon, Spoonbill and Little Egret often pop up in the spring and Dotterel have became virtually annual in the fields at the North end of the reserve - so come along and find them for us please! But the best thing about May is the unpredictability of it as far as birds are concerned - there could be overshooting southern European species, waylaid migrants heading to Scandinavia, passage birds using the reserve as a stop-over on their way to the Arctic or just something totally random (the Upland Sandpiper from May 2008 was only the second mainland Scottish record - so surely nobody predicted that!).
There was a good spread of records today, with the Great White Egret still present, the Snow Goose still mixing with the few hundred remaining Pink-feet and the male Garganey putting in an afternoon appearance on the pools. A Greenshank on the Low Ground was one of the few passage waders seen this spring so far - although there are surely more to come.
But keep watching this space, I'm sure there'll be more to report soon...
Having not been seen at all yesterday I was very surprised to re locate the great white egret again this morning. It was back in one of its favourite haunts - the mouth of the Savoch Burn and is most easily seen from the Fen Hide.
It has been a mixed day today - with birds most associated with both spring and autumn winter putting in appearence!
Starting with things more usually assocaited with the winter months the white phase snow goose was still around along with several thousand pink footed geese. They must surely be thinking about heading off north shortly, although the weather forecast of strong northerly winds does make me think that they will be around for a bit longer yet! Although the volcano has gone quiet from the news point of view I suspect that there may wellbe impacts for our geese as the ash is I am reliably informed falling heavily in the valley systems that our geese breed in - we will have to see how they react to it. In the office garden I was very surprised to see an adult male brambling feeding in with the yellowhammers, chaffinches and tree sparrows. This attractive finch is normally only found on site in very cold conditions - now I know the forecast is for a colder weekend but surely not that cold!
We have had an influx of willow and sedge warblers in the last couple of days. On the walk to Fen Hide alone I could hear at least eight different willow warblers calling away, once in the hide I was greeted by the parachute song flight of several sedge warblers as well. Spring is definately here. Whilst listening to the sedges I noticed a male marsh harrier hunting over the fen on the far side of the Loch, it was joined by a second whilt I was watching it.
Waders continue to trickle through with a single greenshank being seen late last night and again this morning.
The crane and great white egret were both showing this morning, although the crane in particular was very ellusive at times. Just before midday the crane was seen flying off inland in quite a determined manner, lets hope it is just looking for somewhere fresh to feed and will come back to the reserve to roost.
Tern numbers continue to increase slowly. This morning the pools in front of the visitor centre held at least 10 common and 2 sandwich terns. These combined with the calls of over 130 pairs of black headed gull make up the sound track for the summer (with the geese being the autumn / winter sound track).
Across the scrubby bits of the reserve willow warblers continue to declare their presence. Mixed in to that sound was a single grasshopper warbler rattling away on Mosstown Fen. As is normal for this species relatively easy to hear but a complete nightmare to see! Gropper was the 149th species for the year - what will 150 be?
This morning there was no sign of the great white egret (although we have not checked the south end of the Loch today so it could still be hiding from the grey herons). However we were not without a large "heron" type bird for long as a cracking adult crane resplendent with full bustle and bright red forehead walked into view on Mosstwon Marsh - very nice. This is I think the sixth successive year for the species on the reserve.
Summer migrants continue to arrive across the reserve. Whilst mapping lapwing nests this morning sedge warblers could be heard singing away in the reeds. Other migrants still showing well included a couple of whimbrel, female marsh harrier, at least seven common terns over the Loch and several willow warblers in the car park and scrubby areas.
In complete contrast to the summer migrants our white phase snow goose is still in the area.
NB The egret was hiding at the mouth of the Savoch Burn - best viewed from Fen Hide and then look to your left
The Great White Egret remains on the Loch - it can sometimes be seen from the Visitor Centre, but the much better views today were from the Fen Hide. On the Loch there was also a Little Grebe, several Great Crested Grebes, five Goosander and eight Eider - so plenty to look at if the Egret isn't on show! The walk down to the hide was livened up by the cascading warble of loads (well, at least ten!) Willow Warblers - whilst at least five Common and two Sandwich Terns were overhead. These signs of summer were all very welcome, although the presence of several thousand Pink-footed Geese and a handful of Whooper Swans were a reminder that the winter birds are still hanging on. The Snow Goose was also still around today.
A few other signs of summer included two Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff in the plantation and a Willow Warbler singing in the car park, whilst the Swallow on the wires here is the first of 'our' breeding birds back. Passage waders on the pools included seventeen Ringed Plover, six Grey Plover, four Black-tailed Godwit and six Dunline, along with two White Wagtails.