A slight lowering of the temperature following a stiff northerly gale has increased the number of winter birds present on site throughout the week.
This week’s top birds have mostly involved passage birds; top of the list were 17 hawfinches that flew over Tower Hide on Sunday afternoon, part of a large influx that this country is experiencing at present. Other highlights were a ring ouzel in the scrub near to Tower Hide on Sunday afternoon, a female hen harrier roosting on the reserve on and off throughout the week and a snow bunting flying over Buckenham Marshes.
Continuing with the migrant theme, good numbers of redwings have been seen passing the fen, with smaller numbers of fieldfare, song thrush and small flocks of blackbird, the latter in particular is not usually an obvious migrant at the fen. Small numbers of redpoll, siskin and brambling have also been seen flying over the fen while skylarks and meadow pipits appear to be on the move too. A group of nine buzzards were seen on Friday lunchtime soaring on a thermal, joined by a sparrowhawk and two marsh harriers, two red kite were also seen over the reserve on Wednesday. This really is the best time of the year to look up and see what is passing overhead, the rewards, as can be seen from the above, can be quite amazing.
More routine species have continued to be seen at the fen with several bittern (perhaps 5 individuals?) have been seen from various locations across the fen, while marsh harriers appear to be more apparent throughout the days now, rather than just coming in to roost. Kingfishers are still present and showing well occasionally, bearded tits can still be heard pinging from the reedbeds and groups can be observed almost anywhere that there is reed. Two jack snipe were seen well from Fen Hide on Sunday, however we flooded in the afternoon, which sent the water levels up too much for them to remain in front of the hide, hopefully they are still out there somewhere and will return now that the water levels have decreased. At least three water pipits can be seen flying about over the fen in the Fen Hide area as well as a decent number of stonechats for the reserve (perhaps up to six!). In front of Tower and Reception Hide, good numbers of wildfowl can be seen, with 450 teal, 320 gadwall, 20 shoveller and around 40 mallard being present.
A small flock of around 3000 starlings have roosted for the past three nights in front of Reception Hide, I am hoping that this will attract more birds and increase in size to form an amazing spectacle, however in recent years they have got to the 4000 mark and then found somewhere else to roost so I’ll keep you updated next week.
The woodlands contain tit flocks with all the usual suspects including marsh tit, treecreeper and a fairly decent number of goldcrests, recently a chiffchaff has been seen with the tit flock, hinting that it may be thinking of overwintering.
Buckenham currently has around 2500 pink-footed geese and 30 white-fronted geese as well as three dunlin 18 ruff and a host of wildfowl. The taiga bean geese usually start arriving from early December so fingers crossed they will return once again this year.
The trails are all open and in a fair state, the mud is beginning to appear along the riverbank and Lackford Run as we have flooded several times in recent weeks, however the woodland circuit and path to Fen hide are all in very good condition.