A slightly cooler week caused a small movement of wildfowl across the reserve, this was most noticeable at Buckenham Marshes. On the marshes the pink footed goose numbers rose to the 1000 mark along with 80 white-fronts, 200 Canada, 25 Barnacle, 17 Egyptian and 140 greylags, this has produced a mini goose identification challenge and quite a spectacle at Buckenham. We are still awaiting the first returning taiga bean geese, but their arrival should be immanent now, their arrival will certainly further the challenges of identification. Also on the Marshes the wigeon numbers have increased to 800 and a water pipit has been seen near the hide. Buckenham is not yet fully open after the river bank works, however the path is open the majority of the way to the mill, providing ample viewing.
At Strumpshaw the highlights have been a family group of three otters in front of reception, kingfishers from reception, fen hide and the sluice and bitterns seen in flight from various locations across the fen. Bearded tits are still visible for lucky observers and audible to those who know the calls, these have mainly been between fen and reception hides. wildfowl numbers have risen slowly here, partially due to water levels being at their annual low point, partially due to the saline nature of the water thanks to the flooding in previous weeks. The wildfowl highlight of the week (for me) occurred just a few minutes ago, when a fine drake pintail landed in front of reception, after having a female recently, the drake was most welcome. Other duck species such as teal, gadwall and mallard are all still present and the drakes are thinking about next years breeding already, if you watch the species groups you will notice the drakes displaying and calling to the females.
Marsh harriers are still very evident at the fen and thanks to wing tags and their individual markings we can see how frequently they move around the broads. This week a new tagged bird appeared in front of the reception, its tag number being Green P3, this bird was tagged at Buckenham. Although not a long distance travelled, it does show that some birds stay where they were hatched for their fist winter, in contrast to three of the other tagged birds which look like they will be spending winter in northern England. We have our monthly harrier count this Sunday so next weeks update should have a better figure of just how many harriers are currently using the reserve.
Finally- we have had a digger at strumpshaw for two weeks, I'm glad to say that it has now completed its objectives, in the two weeks it managed to increase the water flow and connectivity at bradeston marsh, repair a sluice, clear some chocked ditches and create the first step of a wet reedbed creation project, so it achieved a lot in a short space of time! The photograph above shows one of the newly created islands, we will see more of these in the broad, these combined with the new ditches should give good opportunities for many reedbed species such as bitterns.
The footpaths at Strumpshaw fen have been subject to overtopping by the river in the past two weeks, as a result the lackford run remains closed as it is very muddy. This means that there is currently no access beyond the tower hide through to the railway gate at tinkers lane, the circuit through the wood, along the riverbank and back via fen hide remains fully open. We will keep an eye on the path and open them when it becomes possible, please ask at reception when you visit for more up to date information.