It seems hard to believe that as recently as the early 1990s any sighting of a little egret was a red letter day. Then, in 1996 a few pairs bred in Dorset and Devon and they haven't looked back. They began nesting in Suffolk a few years later, and we can now almost expect to see a little egret anywhere along the Suffolk coast, at any time of year. In fact, this is probably the heron that you are most likely to come across in many areas now. Here at Minsmere, we've recently had some impressive flocks of egrets on West Scrape and the Levels, culminating in a reserve record count of 55 on Sunday. The same day a great white egret was seen flying over the North Wall, but couldn't be relocated.
There's been a good passage of waders of the last few days too. Lucky Pool, the Levels and South Scrape have been the places to look for them. Best of them have been wood sandpipers, with other highlights including green and common sandpipers, greenshanks, spotted redshanks, ruffs and whimbrels. A curlew sandpiper was at the sluice on Sunday too. Stone-curlews continued to be seen from the North Wall until at least Sunday, and peaked at an impressive seven late last week.
Although most of the gulls and terns have moved on, there continues to be a steady stream of common and Sandwich terns offshore, and two Arctic skuas were seen yesterday. A brief white-winged tern on Lucky Pool on Saturday was only seen by a few lucky people before it moved to Alton Water.
A red kite was seen over the Levels on Sunday, and a tawny owl has been seen several times near the Wildlife Lookout this week. More surprising was a short-eared owl at the sluice last Thursday. Hobbies, cuckoos and turtle doves continue to be seen on most dates.
A moulting ferruginous duck is proving tricky to locate on Island Mere, where it has now been present for a week. Presumably this is last year's bird returning to moult at Minsmere. The other notable duck is an escaped Cape shelduck on the Levels, although numbers of teal, shoveler and wigeon are also beginning to increase.
An otter was at Island Mere on Sunday. White admiral and purple hairstreak butterflies are regular along the woodland trail, and graylings and brown arguses in grassy areas. Best of the dragonflies are banded demoiselles at Eastbridge.