The season is changing and the russet tones of autumn are slowly staining the reedbed crimson and gold with the turning of the season. Wet nights are bringing misty mornings to proceeding warm clear days. Although the unseasonably wet conditions of summer (actually the 4th wettest June-September on record since records began in 1984!) have soaked the reserve, on good days red admirals are still flying around the garden, robins sing and the sun reflects the tonal pallets of the season onto the open water against blue skies.
Movements of smaller birds are certainly one thing to look out for during your next visit. Mixed flocks of tits, goldcrests and warblers are forming bands of foraging parties as they move through the woodland and down the causeway. A slow walk along the path to Lower Hide may reveal coal tits, long-tailed tits, marsh tits, goldfinches, siskins and even the occasional chiffchaff. Among these flocks there is also the chance of something special with scarce warblers passing through the country at this time of year - we've already had a report of a possible yellow-browed warbler.
Teal by Richard Cousens
Wildfowl numbers are building with ducks like wigeon and teal becoming regulars on the Causeway and Tim Jackson pools. Gadwall are looking rather nice at this time of year and can be encountered from most hides on the reserve. The purple heron is still on the reserve with reports daily from several locations including the Causeway and Grisedale. With the time since its arrival increasing we are keeping a watchful eye on its potential departure. Will it be here for several more weeks keeping a low profile?
Red deer stags by Richard Cousens
With the heralding of autumn, red deer activity is increasing as they start the rutting season. Two adult stags were observed running through the reeds recently, with one chasing the other. Your best opportunity to see red deer on the reserve is to head down to Grisedale Hide at the southern end of the reserve. The stags will become increasingly vocal as the season progresses.
The first guided walk of the season to look for bearded tits was a roaring success with all participants having a great morning and gaining extended views of them on the grit trays and along the causeway. Thank you to Mike and Jane Malpass for their excellent guidance. Be sure to check out our events listing, found here, for this popular event which is on during this month only.
Bearded tits on the grit trays at the causeway by Keith Kellet. Our next guided walks to look for them are on Tuesday 10, 17 and 24 October, 9.30-11.30am.
Cetti’s warbler can be heard from the boardwalk and causeway. Pop-in to the Causeway Hide for your best chance to catch up with a marsh harrier or two. We have counted up to five on the reserve, including one with unique lime green wing tags that we know to be a young marsh harrier from Norfolk! The stone island on the Causeway Pool has been good for several types of waders including snipe, greenshank, redshank and a handful of reports of spotted redshank.
Otter sightings, as well as marsh harrier sightings, are two of the most numerous reports in the book over the past few days together with great egret and bearded tits. An otter even featured on this week’s bearded tit walk, with the group enjoying views from Causeway Hide, so you never know your luck.
Otter by Phil Boardman
Other notable highlights include a garganey from Causeway Hide early in the week, ruff, curlew sandpiper, merlin and little stint reports from the Eric Morecambe Hide and little grebes from Lillian’s Hide.