In the last week, there has been an amazing westerly movement of waxwings through the reserve. In the last 7 days, we have recorded over 200 birds passing through.
Waxwing is a species that breeds in woodlands throughout Scandinavia east through Siberia towards the Pacific but leaves these areas in winter in search of its favoured food, rowan berries.
All of the birds have been seen flying over with the starling flocks. With a bit of practice, they can be located by their high-pitched trilling call and stand out within a flock as they are much paler.
With the hedgerows and orchards full of fruit at the moment and a large numbers of thrushes, starlings and finches, the old wives tale of an impending cold winter, may be true.
Well it's day 204 of the coastal change project and we are starting to see the hides take shape. The walls are coming up and the north hide has a roof. Despite the good progress we have lost some time due to the weather but hopefully everyone will feel it was worth the wait. The views from the hide locations are fantastic and with the numbers of birds using the fresh marsh - we had over 800 teal last week - the wildlife spectacle should also be great. The work on the sea walls has finished for this year and we are hoping to have the hide open in early December so keep checking here or the website for updates as work progresses.
Here is the latest update from Ray Kimber on his quest to see as many different species as possible on the reserve in twelve months Aug 201 to July 2011.
'I've just had two great weeks, in which the 57 new species seen brought the Rambles list up to 461. I've had my best ever views of a Grey Phalarope, a visitor showed me a tiny Palmate Newt he'd found on the main path, a Pied Flycatcher and a Yellow-browed Warbler were seen together in the picnic area and a beautiful pale green and black Merveille du Jour moth was trapped near the visitor centre.Of course there are always the ones that get away, like Long-eared Owl, Richard's Pipit and Horseshoe Bat, hey-ho that's life!'
Star species of the week was a stunning female black redstart in the dunes near the beach boardwalk on Monday and Tuesday. With the nice weather, the bird was spending most of its time catching insects around the old pillbox. Most of the time it was hopping about on the ground but at times, it would perch on the edge of the concrete and chase insects in flight showing off its lovely rusty red tail. Although I have seen black redstart before, on the grazing meadow in 2002, this first one I have actually seen on the reserve.
Black redstarts were once scarce visitor to England and a very rare breeder. This started to change as a result of the bombing of London during WWII. The birds found that the derelict buildings were similar to their natural nests sites and started to increase in numbers with a peak of 119 singing males recorded in England in 1986.
Offshore, the sea duck numbers are starting to build up with 700 common and 3 velvet scoter recorded over the weekend. With the winds still in the east there was an arrival of migrants on Tuesday morning. The bushes along the west bank were alive with goldcrests and there were 2 ring ouzels (1 in carpark, 1 on main path) present.
It's a true pleasure to be able to mix work and pleasure. Our office is only a two minute dash from the freshwater marsh, and we all know how lucky we are to work in such a fabulous location. We manage to see most of the scarce or spectacular birds that drop in on the reserve be that during the course of our everyday jobs or during lunch breaks etc.
However, today all of the reserve staff and volunteers missed one of the most spectcular birds to have visited us for a long while. No it wasn't some waif or stray from Siberia, neither was it even particularly rare....but boy oh boy.... are these guys usually hard to see well!
A typical view of one, or should I say part of one, is through a great thicket of bushes and vegetation. If you are lucky you might, at most see a square inch or two of the bird because of all the intervening branches.
So when Ian McGregor came in to the visitor centre with these stunning shots of a long eared owl, taken as it flew in off the sea on migration, we were all very envious! Long eared owls are very scarce on the reserve, not even annual...we are very grateful to Ian for allowing us to use his images.