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Wild Rye: Discover Our Wetland Wildlife

Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly

Recent Sightings

February 2014

As we move towards March the reserve is increasingly showing signs of the spring to come. Many birds have been singing and displaying since December, but this activity now seems to be taking on increasing urgency as the birds stake out their territories for the coming breeding season. One of the most obvious signs of spring is the return of black-headed gull and the odd Mediterranean gull to Ternery Pool, with up to 1500 of the former and 11 of the latter present here at the end of the month (as well as the odd Sandwich tern). At the moment water levels are high on the breeding islands, so this makes for noisy and bad-tempered encounters between competing birds! What may be the first of our breeding avocet have also returned to the reserve, with up to 30 present towards the end of February and increasingly we are seeing pairs of lapwing (below) and oystercatcher pairing up and defending their patches. At Castle Water, our marsh harriers also seem to be getting in the mood, with their aerial displays seen towards the end of the month. Let’s hope this years a bumper season! Wader numbers remained high on the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm during February, with counts of up to 2400 golden plover, 2100 lapwing 450 oystercatcher and 430 curlew, while up to 580 dunlin, 84 grey plover, 80 knot, and 37 ruff, as well as smaller numbers of black-tailed godwit and bar-tailed godwit were present on the islands on Ternery Pool and 240 sanderling were present on the shore on the 22nd. Wader highlights during February were jack snipe at Ternery Pool on the 1st and 27th, and the long-staying spotted redshank, which was joined by a second bird from the 2nd. Notable waterfowl during February included up to two Slavonian grebe at Castle Water, two long-tailed duck and the male scaup on Long pit, and up to two great white egret and the occasional bittern at Castle Water, while a flock of 49 pintail on Flat Beach on the 22nd was one of the highest counts ever for this species on the reserve. Raptor highlight during February was a ringtail (i.e. female or immature) hen harrier at Castle Water on the 22nd, while other species included up to five marsh harrier at Castle Water, and up to three peregrine and a merlin (below) over the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm. There were also occasional sightings of barn owl at Castle Water during the month. Little in the way of notable passerine sightings during February, with the most notable being several records of bearded tit at Castle Water. A slight improvement in the weather during late February saw increasing numbers of insect sightings on the reserve, including several small tortoiseshell and the odd drone fly and honey bee. Highlights were the uncommon leaf beetle Longitarsus dorsalis at Lime Kiln Cottage on the 26th and the local rove beetle Stenus aceris on Harbour Farm on the 19th, the first record for the reserve. This month also saw the first flowering stems of lesser periwinkle and red deadnettle around Lime Kiln Cottage. |