Construction work is ongoing to replace the old footbridge to the reserve. An alternative route is available, but the Heron's Wing and Peter Scott hides will be closed until the work is complete. We apologise for any inconvenience.

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Recent Wildlife Sightings 4th - 10th May

Highlights: Garganey, Great White Egret, Southern Marsh Orchid, Mute Swan

The sudden burst of high temperatures and dazzling sunlight brought out scores of visitors ready to enjoy the spring wildlife on show this week, from new life flowering and fledging to some uncommon water birds dropping in to greet us.

Highlights: Garganey, Great White Egret, Southern Marsh Orchid, Mute Swan

We were delighted to welcome enthusiastic (but understandably tired!) visitors to our Dawn Chorus walks at the weekend, especially as we were blessed with nice weather. The early start was certainly worth it, with a wide range of sights and sounds to enjoy, from the fluty chorus of Blackcap to the scratchy warbles of Whitethroat in their display flight 'pinging' up from the tops of trees and fluttering gently back down. As well as the usual suspects, we picked up the song of the first Cuckoo of the year coming from the North East direction. The iconic sound of this migratory bird was frequently heard last year, with one of them spending a lot of time on our site. Although coming from quite a distance away from the reserve, we hope that the Cuckoo we heard at the weekend flies a little closer to us for visitors to listen to and admire.

Last Friday, Freshwater Lagoon welcomed in a scarce Summer migrant Garganey. The visitor to our lagoon was a striking Male, sporting bold white stripes over its eyes, contrasting with its rich brown head and neck, along with neat black and white feathers on its wings. Despite being known as a very secretive species, this bird was dabbling away quite happily in front of Boardwalk Hide for visitors to observe. The next day, the Garganey turned up on Dafen Scrapes, being a little harder to spot as it ducked into reeds out of view. A few days later, it was spotted on Deep Water Lake, likely due to the much more secluded areas available for it to feed in there.

As a considerably larger bird than the Garganey, the Great White Egret that visited Saline Lagoon on Monday was hard to miss. Although similar in appearance to the common Little Egret, especially with its black beak during the breeding season, this large white heron is actually more closely related to the ubiquitous Grey Heron. The Great White Egret hunts in a similar manner to the Grey Heron, cautiously skulking through shallow water with its beak poised and ready to pounce on the first fish that takes an unfortunate turn into its path.

The first flowering Southern Marsh Orchid of the year was sighted near Hopkin's Folly this week. Our reserve ticks all the boxes for this flower, being a marshy area in the milder Southern half of the country. One could say that this orchid has a very descriptive name! The level of variation in petal colour and the frequency with which this species hybridises with other orchids make it a tricky one to identify. A good wildflower guide is recommended if you're on the hunt for plants like this around the reserve!

On Deep Water Lake, the first Mute Swan cygnets of the year were spotted eagerly following their parents around. It will take between 120 and 150 days for these babies to develop the ability to fly, so you'll have plenty of time to spot them bobbing about in the water.

Featured Photo Credit: Jay Thomas

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