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09 Nov 2017

Marsh harriers, pied wagtails & start of a starling roost

Kingfishers showing well at Ramsar hide. Photo by visitor Susan Lamb.

Wildlife Sightings blog by Paul Stevens, the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre Reserve Manager.

We have had at least three more frosts over the past week yet I still saw two mating common darter dragonflies today, after the bright sun had warmed the air. On Sunday I saw a red admiral butterfly. They are popping out on sunny days, not yet in full hibernation like the brimstone butterflies seem to be. We yet to have a prolonged dry cold spell that will kill off the dragonflies and bring more wildfowl into the reserve.

The afternoons are a great time to visit to watch many birds come into roost overnight on the wetland reserve. Warden Sam Halpin counted 55 pied wagtails on Saturday coming in late afternoon to roost in the main reedbed. Sam also saw a small group of starlings but they came in and went straight into the reeds, no murmuration. The reason for that maybe we seem to have 4 marsh harriers roosting in the far reedbed, the one closest to the Arun River. I counted three male marsh harriers on Sunday and spotted a female trying to come into the main reedbed. She must have been startled by my appearance on the reedbed boardwalk so she turned tail and settled into the far reedbed as well.  I also noticed some reed buntings coming into roost as well.

A few little egrets gather in the dead tree to the far right of the Ramsar hide each afternoon to roost. We are seeing 4-5 grey herons each afternoon sprinkled around between the main fishing areas. They likely are roosting with the egrets.

There is a good mix of wildfowl around but not in huge numbers. We have a couple of wigeon onsite, 14 shoveler, teal and a handfull of shelducks. Snipe and water rail are becoming easier to spot as numbers increase and our cut areas near the hides are finished. We have had some good sightings of snipe at both Ramsar and Scrape hide this past week. Kingfishers continue to show weel, primarily at the Ramsar hide.

The feeders in the Woodland Loop are attracting many blue, great and the odd coal tit along with chaffinch and goldcrest. The sunflower hearts we are now using in one of these feeders have attracted a goldfinch, perhaps luring him away from the Niger seed feeders they so love in our  Wildlife Garden. We also are seeing a great spotted woodpecker, a green woodpecker and Cetti’s warblers onsite.

Water rail at the Ramsar hide by visitor Susan Lamb.