Well, where to start, there are all sorts of exciting things happening on the reserve at the moment. The beautiful weather has enticed so many people out into the fresh winter wind, and the wildlife hasn’t disappointed either.
Perhaps the biggest excitement of the week was the brimstone butterfly sighting near Phalarope Pool on Monday. We have since found out that this was the first sighting in the UK this year! Brimstones are one of a handful of British butterflies which hibernate in cold weather, so this fellow will be from last year, out taking advantage of a warm day. They’re known for being one of the first butterflies to emerge each year and carry the common myth that the name ‘butterfly’ derives from their buttery coloured wings.
Stonechat, Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
There have been several barn owl sightings this week, including one over the flashes and another between Cedric’s and Phalarope. Other excitement in that area includes several stonechats and a few reports of bearded tits. A peregrine was also spotted flying over the flashes, and of course, the long-eared owls have returned to their roost.
Reed bunting, Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Some lovely non-bird sightings include a fox on the trails near to Pick-up Hide, and a close encounter with a couple of roe deer on the Riverbank Trail.
Also on the Riverbank Trail there have been several pairs of goldeneye and an Iceland gull on the main bay roost. It takes a sharp pair of eyes to pick out these individuals, Iceland gulls are smaller than most herring gulls and they have very pale plumage. A small number overwinter here and they are usually alone among the roost.
The balcony feeding station which serves the Big Garden Birdwatch lounge has been a great success and is covered with tits and finches, including several pairs of bullfinches. The tree sparrows have made themselves at home and several robins have been keeping onlookers entertained as they attempt to stake claim to the food. There have also been a few willow tit sightings, several reports of reed buntings and even a couple of redpoll! That, and a cheeky male pheasant stealing a sneaky snack now and then. The Birdwatch Lounge is a lovely spot for lunch, while you’re there don’t forget to take a #selfieonthesofa.