This week has seen a continuation of winter migrants arriving at the fen.
The highlight of the week has been the continuation of the starling roost in front of reception, we counted 21,500 roost on Saturday, this continued throughout the week, although looks to have reduced to around 15,000 now. These birds are best seen from reception and start coming in between 15.30 and 16.00 depending on weather and light conditions. Hopefully the roost will increase if the predicted cold weather reaches us as more starlings will head south from Scandinavia to spend the winter with us here. Perhaps equally as spectacular are the birds of prey that the murmuration is attracting, on Tuesday I counted 21 marsh harriers in the air at once as well as two to three sparrowhawks constantly trying their luck dive bombing the roost.
Other highlights include a great white egret, which flew in to Tower Hide broad on Saturday evening, a female hen harrier seen on a couple of occasions through the week, a small flock of hawfinch were seen flying over Sandy Wall on Tuesday too.
More routine species have included a Jack snipe along with a handful of common snipe from Fen Hide, regular bittern flights over the reedbed, bearded tits are still to be seen and heard in the reedbeds near to Fen and Reception Hide. At least two stonechats are still feeding in the fen, usually seen near to the last reed plot to be cut, there is also another pair currently at Buckenham seen from the main track. At least three to four water pipits can be seen in the Fen Hide/Riverbank areas, mostly seen in flight. Song thrushes, blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings and skylarks have been obviously migrating over the fen throughout the week, the marvel of visible migration in action!
Buckenham has seen a small increase in wigeon numbers, now up to 150, while there are also currently 300+ pink footed geese, 20 white-fronted geese as well as the small flock of semi feral barnacle geese.
Reserve is fully open and in fair condition, wellingtons or stout waterproof footwear recommended for the full circuit at present. With strong northerlies forecast for the weekend there is a fairly high chance of flooding at the fen; high tides are at about 6am/pm for the weekend.
Whatever you do this weekend and next week, make sure you put aside an hour or so at dusk to see the starlings coming into the roost at Reception Hide, we will keep the hide open past the usual 4pm closing time if there are starlings roosting and people to see them.