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21 Nov 2017

Great egret, marsh harriers & hungry bats

A redpoll on seed head photo by Romney Turner

Reserve warden Linda Magyar spotted a great egret that dropped into the reserve near the Ramsar hide mid-morning on Monday. The great egret was reported at Pagham Harbour last Friday so look out for it in the area. Flocks of redwings were all around the reserve on Monday, over from Scandinavia for the winter. They were frantically feeding up on whatever berries they could find in the scrub, maybe sensing more cold weather on the way. Regular visitor Nick Bond also reported a firecrest sighting on the Long Path near our tool shed gate last Sunday. There are goldcrests around, too. A female blackcap keeps appearing on the dogwood scrub buy our office window, trying for the last few white berries on the dark red twigs.

A redwing eating berries

Flocks of redpolls are mixed in with the goldfinches at the feeders around the site. The feeders are often bust so the goldfinch mine the dried heads of teasel and other plants while they wait their turn for Niger seed and sunflower hearts.

On Sunday afternoon I went out to the reedbed to do our monthly marsh harrier survey. We feed into the national survey which focuses mainly on hen harriers but wants our marsh harrier info, too. Sunday’s count was five marsh harriers coming in to roost, some days we are seeing six. Our regular kestrel, the sparrowhawk and red kites are all showing up in the skies over the reserve throughout the day. While waiting for the harriers I had a nice sighting of a water rail feeding in front of the Scrape hide.

While the cooler weather is bringing smaller birds in the sprinkle of sunny days and evenings well above freezing has elongated the season for several species. Some bats are still out hunting. At 4.30 pm last Friday I watched a Daubenton’s bat hunting insects above the water from the Ramsar hide. I am still finding little piles of moth wings Inside the Sand Martin hide, evidence that a brown long-eared bat is still using this as a feeding perch. On Friday I also saw a buff-tailed bumblebee gathering nectar on the ivy flowers and I saw a red admiral butterfly. Last Tuesday I saw a southern hawker dragonfly egg laying on the water in the ditch beside our car park. Amazing for mid-November!