It's been a lovely week on the reserve, with lots of sunny spells bring the visitors in and they've had plenty of wildlife to enjoy. In particular the old rail path which runs through the reserve has been a hive of activity for insects. Hundreds of Red Admirals can seen along the length of the track. The ivy in particular is covered in them in some places along with bees and hoverflies amongst other invertebrates enjoying the late nectar source the ivy is providing. It's also a south facing aspect so getting good sunshine whilst also sheltering from and wind, so it's ideal.
Look out also for the odd peacock butterfly and Speckled Wood too. I say Peacock Butterfly as I encountered an actual Peacock on the reserve this week. I'm guessing it's escaped from one of the gardens just up the road where they have been in the past. But it was a bit of a surprise to me to see it strutting around some of our wet woodland.
The old rail path is good for birds too with lots of species to keep an eye (or ear) out for. This week we've had Bullfinch, Chiffchaff, Treecreeper & Goldcrest reported along with all the more common species you would expect. Large groups of Long Tailed Tits follow the tree lines too with constant contact calling as they move along. Several Jays have been seen here too (as well as at the car park) - probably loitering around the larger oak trees which look laden with acorns. They will be caching many of these for a winter food source.
The area in front of the 1st platform is wetting up slowly. It's being enjoyed on most days by the Glossy Ibis. It was showing very well this morning but has also spent time down in front of the 2nd platform area and even over on Shapwick Heath. They have the scrape pumped down here and are getting a nice selection of waders including 4 Little Stint which were also recorded on Ham Wall (in front of the 2nd platform).
The 1st platform area has also proved popular with a number of Gulls and Cormorants but also both Little and Great White Egret. Thanks to John Crispin for a great photo of each of these birds. The Little Egret showing of its yellow feet nicely and the Great White Egret showing off its impressive wing span.
There's a good selection of ducks from both platforms but it's seeing the Wigeon numbers increasing slowly which is most interesting. Despite it being lovely and sunny at the moment - winter will be with us soon.
Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Teal are also present too along with varying numbers of waders. As already mentioned 4 Little Stint were recorded but also Snipe 6, Lapwing c40, Ruff 4 although 10 reported in flight on Tuesday, a few Black Tailed Godwits and 1 Green Sandpiper. All the ducks and Waders have attracted a Peregrine. One was reported from the 2nd platform on both Monday and Tuesday and was seen again from the Tor View Hide perched in a willow on Tuesday morning too.
Plenty of other birds of prey can be seen or heard during a visit. Kestrels are being seen daily at present - often from the 1st platform with 2 seen hovering and rising on thermals this morning. Later in the morning one was being harassed by a small group of crows. Also rising on thermals were 2 Buzzards - although often more can be seen and Marsh Harriers (both male and female can usually be seen daily - although unusually I did not seen one this morning). Listen out for Tawny Owl on an early (or late) visit and Sparrowhawks are also being seen on pretty much a daily basis - this will be more common as the Starling numbers begin to rise. I've not been told otherwise so I am assuming they small flock of c3000 is still roosting in the Loxtons section.
Bearded Tits are still being seen in good numbers - you've just got to be in the right place at the right time. On Wednesday I saw a group of 10 to the left of the 1st platform, yesterday I saw a few in front of the 1st screen at Waltons and this morning a flock of 7 (including some perching birds) were directly opposite the small bridge that takes you off the main track towards the Avalon Hide. Add to this reports of up to 15 in front of the 2nd platform and reports in double figures from around Loxtons and it's looking really good! John Crispin captured these in flight this week - thanks John!
There are still some birds yet to migrate. Still small groups of Swallows being seen daily - a group of 6 flew over the 1st platform on Wednesday while I was there - they were headed south so going in the right direction. Also several sightings of Hobby this week from Tor View HIde, Avalon Hide and the 2nd platform. Still quite a number of dragonflies on the wing - many along the rail path too. Look out for Migrant Hawker, Common Dater & Ruddy darter (pictured).
Also this week: A male Stonechat has been showing really well from the 1st platform perching up nicely (one also seen this morning from the Avalon Hide), 2 Bitterns seen from the Tor View Hide on Monday but also from 1st platform throughout the week, 2 Cranes seen flying high over Meare Village on Wednesday heading towards Westhay - a reminder to always look up too, 2 Cattle Egret reported from the scrape at Shapwick during the week, Great Spotted Woodpecker at the car park and along the main path, Goldcrest right next to the 2nd platform on Tuesday, Kingfishers reported from Waltons (including the Tor View Hide), the 1st platform and Loxtons - perched in front of the screen and Water Rail seen close in to the Tor View Hide.
We've had good numbers of Greylag Geese again this week - in front of the 2nd platform is a favoured haunt. Thanks to John Crispin for sending in a couple of shots:
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!