The weird weather around this spring has played havoc with the breeding season but finally things are starting to happen. The poor weather in April and May has set back the breeding season by several weeks so we are only just starting to see some interesting activity.
After last years peak, avocets numbers have taken a bit of a tumble this year with only 19 nests located on the fresh marsh. The weather has had a significant impact on them with only one nest hatching although the remaining chick is doing very well and over half-grown. Bearded tits have again struggled after a 2nd consecutive cold winter. Up until the end of May (usually the end of the monitoring period) we had only confirmed two nests but again, in recent weeks, things have picked up with 6 confirmed nests and good numbers of juveniles about.
Marsh harriers are ‘bucking the trend’ at the moment with loads of activity over the weekend. All of the three nests are now feeding young which are probably getting quite large. Yesterday, food was being brought in every 20 mins or so with both the male and female out hunting, a sure sign that they are developing well. Fledging takes 35-40 days so hopefully we should see some first tentative flights in the next week or so.
The most encouraging recent news comes from our bitterns. Like the weather, we have been pretty gloomy this spring as we have failed locate any booming males in the reedbed although things may be changing? Regular flights were being observed but by mid-May even these had stopped. Then, last Monday, several flights were seen dropping into the reedbed near the dead trees and several more sightings were made in a similar area over the next few days. Interestingly, these sightings were 25 days after the last and bittern incubation is 25-26 days..... As the weather improves we will be carrying out some intensive monitoring so watch this space.
I am pleased to announce that we have been able to confirm that we have an active nest in the main reedbed. The female has been feeding north of the Fen Hide and flying east towards the dead trees. Fledging takes 50-55 days so there should be plenty of time to come and have a look.