Thursday 26th August 2021

There was a slightly autumnal feel about today with a cool breeze and hirundines streaming east. Lots of Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats, Wheatears and Whinchats were moving but the sound track of the day was provided by a large, swirling and mobile group of Yellow Wagtails.  There’d obviously been a big arrival with their ‘feest’ calls a constant overhead. They landed regularly giving some lovely photo opportunities. I saw them at all parts of the reserve, perhaps 50 altogether.

Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail Calling

The juvenile Green Woodpecker appeared again. The area around Pullen Hide and the Nightingale Enclosure has been the favoured location.

juvenile Green Woodpecker photo by Ian Williamson

When you see a Brown Hare and a Rabbit together you can see just how different they are. The Brown Hare is much larger and browner with a more obvious pale iris, longer legs and longer dark-tipped ears and their white under tail is hidden as they run away.

Brown Hare and Rabbit
Brown Hare

Nearby four Egyptian Geese were on the low tide line off Mary Monts.

Egyptian Geese photo by Ian Williamson

Just like last Sunday a Tree Pipit flew over calling at 7:05am, this one was on Gravelly Marsh. Soon afterwards I met Graham and Tara who had ringed two Tree Pipits. After a quick chat with them I noticed an Osprey heading east just off shore from Mary Monts. It was already heading away from me and my camera struggled to focus in the gloomy light.

There were at least four Whinchats again today all of them on various fence lines and the same number of Wheatear. The single Green Sandpiper was again slowly walking and bobbing along the edge of the De L’Orne flood.

Wheatear and Whinchat

The new, very impressive, hides at Venner and De L’Orne were both opened today. On De L’Orne scrape there were six Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank with a Snipe along the back edge. Several Mediterranean Gulls and a single Sandwich Tern were mixed in with the Black-headed Gulls. There were 39 Black-tailed Godwit feeding on De L’Orne flood viewable from the boardwalk, most of them were juveniles.

There was a moulting Great Crested Grebe on Venner and a Pintail flying over Black Water, both birds were the first returning winter visitors for these species. A Coal Tit calling from the top of the pines near Black Water Hide was the first I’ve recorded since 21st March, they stay close to their nest site during the summer before dispersing in the autumn. 

Yellow Wagtail

I’d only seen one Small Tortoiseshell prior to the individual that bombed past the Viewing Gate and the 18 Little Egrets on Inchmery was my highest count on the reserve.

While at the Sluice Gate a Kingfisher called loudly from beyond the overhanging trees to the left but didn’t appear. We walked back to the Pines Gate and then saw it perched on the branch low down 50 yards along the ditch.


Nearby a Sparrowhawk emerged from the brambles carrying a Lesser Whitethroat which was still ‘tacking’ in alarm!

As we headed back to the car I picked up the Osprey again high over the river. We headed back to the Sailing Club for a better view and then I noticed it carrying a fish just off shore. Given the distance between the two sightings this had to be a second bird and it became clear that we were watching an adult and a juvenile. The younger bird had a large white patch on the upper wings and the adult lacked paler patches and feather edgings and was moulting its central tail feathers. The adult also showed a solid black band across the underwings.

juvenile Osprey photos by Mike Rafter and Dimitri Moore

Alan later enjoyed a close view of the juvenile and managed to photograph the ring it was wearing, he has asked for more information which he will share with me.

The adult settled in a bare tree on the Inchmery side to eat the fish. We headed back to the hides where we picked up the Ospreys again and then the White-tailed Eagle suddenly appeared from the Gins direction and was immediately mobbed by the adult Osprey.

adult Osprey mobbing the White-tailed Eagle photo by Ian Williamson

The young White-tailed Eagle G393 is a 2019 male and has now been in the area for 5 months, he has clearly set up a territory and will be old enough to breed next year.

White-tailed Eagle photo by Dimitri Moore

The County Bat recorder has confirmed my Barbastelle record from the Pullen Hide on 26th June 2021. A rare species. The spectrogram shows the FM sweep from 44kHz to 29kHz in around 4.5ms.

Barbastelle sonogram

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