Late summer means that migration is in full swing, and there's certainly been a constant stream of wading birds passing through over the last few days. Some stay for a few days, others for just a few minutes, so there's no guarantee that you'll catch up with all of them, but it will be fun trying.
There's three good areas to look for waders at present. One of these is, of course, the Scrape. Birds can be seen from any of the Scrape hides, but on days when management work is being undertaken some parts of the Scrape may be very quiet. However, don't let this put you off, as many of the birds simply relocate to other parts of the Scrape, or the other two good areas. So, if work is being done on West Scrape, then East or South Hides should still be worth a visit. Failing that, try Lucky Pool or the North Levels. Lucky Pool is just south of the sluice bushes and easily watched with binoculars, though you'll need a telescope to look beyond onto the South Levels. The North Levels is usually inaccessible to visitors, but we've just opened our seasonal wader trail to view these excellent reedbed pools. It's a long walk - 3/4 mile each way, but it's worth it.
A quick look at today's sightings gives a good indication of what's been seen over the last few days: 80+ black-tailed godwits, 16+ greenshanks, 5+ spotted redshanks, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, four snipe, 20+ ringed plovers, sanderling, plus dunlins, lapwings and redshanks. Add in the odd wood sandpiper in recent days, regular turnstones, whimbrels and curlews, and a purple sandpiper on the beach last night, and it's clear that there's plenty of waders to be seen.
It's not just waders either. Three garganeys are favouring the North Levels wader trail, and one was on the pool behind South Hide this morning. There's a few wigeons on the Scrape among growing numbers of teals, gadwalls and shovelers. There are still good numbers of little egrets and grey herons on the Scrape and North Levels too.
The reedbed is much quieter at the moment as many of the marsh harriers have already left, warblers have finished singing, and bitterns have finished nesting. However, with luck and patience you should still be able to spot some of these species, plus the odd hobby or water rail. The female ferruginous duck remains on Island Mere, but can be difficult to spot at times among the coots, little grebes, gadwalls and tufted ducks. An otter was seen behind the Wildlife Lookout yesterday. An osprey flew over the car park on Thursday, heading towards Island Mere.
There's also a lot of small migrants on the move. North Bushes are teeming with warblers, including up to 20 lesser whitethroats as well as whitethroats, blackcaps, chiffchaffs, willow warblers, and a couple of spotted flycatchers. A pied flycatcher was there yesterday, and a wryneck was reported on Thursday. Elsewhere, there's the odd wheatear on the beach, two whinchats were on the North Levels wader trail on Thursday, four yellow wagtails were at the sluice this morning, and a redstart was in the car park on Wednesday. A juvenile cuckoo was at the Wildlife Lookout today.
There's still lots of grayling butterflies, especially on the dunes, alongside common blues, gatekeepers and a few skippers. Dragonflies continue to show well too, and the first wasp spiders are now showing in the dunes. Grass snakes and adder are seen most days. Look out for another interesting predator too - though you'll be surprised by it's identity. The yellow flowers visible in the pools alongside North wall are bladderwort - a carnivorous plant.
Greenshank by Jon Evans - one of the waders to be seen at Minsmere at the moment