We left the last blog with a promise of short eared owls arriving soon - and now is that time! They have been spotted most days this week patrolling the hillside and causing quite a stir with the already-here crows and marsh harriers. Well worth coming down after 3pm to catch these beautiful owls.

Short-eared owl

Stonechats are still everywhere! A great place to spot them is the long path from the visitor centre to the reedbed.

Stonechat with its trademark rusty red plumage. Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Similarly, the kestrels are providing some cracking shots - a vertical wooden pole at the junction towards the reedbed from the centre is a favorite posing station at the moment. They are very comfortable around humans - on a walk yesterday I was treated to a prey's-eye-view just feet below a female kestrel.

A sassy look from a kestrel on the post! Image: Alan Coe

Another seasonal highlight is the annual influx of redwing - we've had several hundred pass through this week. The redwing is the UK's smallest true thrush. In winter, they roam across the UK's countryside, feeding in fields and hedgerows. It's a red listed species in terms of conservation priority - so St Aidan's providing a rich habitat for them is a big win!

Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

The reedbed is many people's favourite place to walk in spring and summer - but autumn is also proving to be full of wildlife. Snipe, pintail, marsh harriers, bearded tits, kingfisher and a water rail are this week's highlights. 

Main Lake
Last night we had 3 rock pipits reported on islands in Main Lake, this is a record number seen at St. Aidan's - they are usually found in coastal sites. Many are resident - but the winter influx is arriving from Norway.

Also on the islands are ruff, curlew, up to 20 pintail and up to 20 golden plover too. Golden plover spend summer breeding in upland moorlands and winter take advantage of food in lowland fields, often forming huge flocks which fly in tight formation. Fingers crossed for more!

Golden plover flock, Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

Quick little owl update: we can't forget these characters. Over the last six months we've all become quite attached to the little owls and their chicks and worried we'd have no sight of them come winter. Although the chicks (still little but not so chick like!) have left and spread their wings - the adults are spotted most days in the dragline compound. 

Little owl looking adorable! Rachel Gooday

And lastly - our warden, John took this wonderful shot of the end of a rainbow in Bowers Lake yesterday. Pot of gold anyone?