As the summer comes to an end, now is a great time to get out and look for passage birds on their migrations back south. Across our reserves we carefully manage water levels to ensure there is plenty of mud for passage waders to stock up on food for their long journeys. Vange Marsh is especially good this time of year with a wide variety of waders, recent maximum counts include up to 180 black-tailed godwit, 20 greenshank, over 60 redshank and 5 spotted redshank. The reserves have also attracted small numbers of green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, common sandpiper, little ringed plover, ruff, little stint and curlew sandpiper, so it’s the perfect time to get out and brush up on your wader ID skills! It’s also always worth having a careful look through any wader flocks for rarities, Vange Marsh recently hosted a pectoral sandpiper.

Another highlight has been a first-winter red-backed shrike which has been giving great views on West Canvey Marshes. Its favourite spot has been along the fence line and in the bushes between the roadside viewing screen and the playground. Other migrants to look out for on West Canvey are wheatears and whinchats, which can sometimes be seen flitting from post to post along fences.

Red-backed shrike by David Lee