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11 Sep 2017

Why did the harvest mouse cross the road?

This blackcap is one of many on the reserve this week.

SMALL WARBLERS continue to appear across the reserve at Arundel Wetland Centre as they drop in on their migration southward. Our guide-in-the-hide David Harper reported a grasshopper warbler in the scrub on the car park early Saturday morning. These warblers like to stay low to the ground but their monotone reeling song gave them away. David also saw a common redstart in the hedges.

Our Warden Linda spotted a lesser white throat on the Long Path through the reserve. David saw the lesser whitethroat again on Sunday morning and another near the Sussex Screen hide. I also spotted blackcaps, chiff chaffs, and willow warblers on Sunday.

The tits have started to flock up together, abandoning their summer breeding territories for the safety in numbers approach in autumn. I spotted a marsh tit at our Woodland feeders in a mixed flock with blue great and long-tailed tits.
I spotted a water rail and David saw snipe on the Wet Grassland. These two species have arrived to winter onsite and numbers should start increasing. Gadwall and teal numbers are climbing with 30+ showing up in our morning counts of the reserve. Gadwall are back in their breeding plumage and the males were showing off their feathered finery displaying around the females.

My surprise of the week was the sight of a harvest mouse running across our Long path, near the Reedbed boardwalk exit. This straw-brown little mouse was lifting its long tail high in the air as it bounded across the wide pathway. These little creatures are arboreal, usually living among plants. They use that long tail to entwine reeds and grasses as they climb through the greenery. It’s a rare site to one bounding down a pathway, its tail in the air.

The sun was out a bit last week and during these short intervals we were seeing red admiral and peacock butterflies. There were a few commas about too. Brimstone and tortoiseshell butterflies seem to be hibernating already, driven in by the chilly overnight temperatures.