Path conditions: We’re expecting high tides over the next week, so flooding is very likely on the Lackford Run – please turn back if you encounter flooding! The path to tower hide might get quite muddy, so worth being prepared with wellies or stout walking boots.
Reception hide: Ducks, ducks , ducks... If you want to practice your duck identification, reception hide is a great place to start. Along with the humble mallards, you might spot teal, gadwall, pochard, tufted duck, shoveler and shelduck. If you don’t spot them all at reception, take a wander over to tower hide and there’s a good chance you’ll see them there. If they suddenly all scamper across the water in a panic, take a peek at the place they’re running from – you might spot a sleek otter on the prowl.
Tower hide: More ducks! And a medley of wading birds too. Watch out for lapwings, redshank, common sandpiper, ringed plover, cunningly-camouflaged snipe. Oh – and I mustn’t forget the lovely ruff!
Fen hide: More good bittern sightings from fen hide. It’s also a good spot to watch for otters, kingfishers and marsh harriers. If you’re really lucky you might spot a little Jack snipe bobbing up and down as it feeds. Being on the small side, fen hide can get crowded at times, so is best visited on quieter week days.
Around the reserve: Autumn reds are everywhere you look: the vibrant berries of Guelder rose and dog rose brightening the trailside; rosy apples strewn on the riverbank trail; and the red flashes of migrating thrushes and finches. Redwings, redpolls, and bramblings are all passing through at the moment, and you might spot bullfinches, siskins and goldcrests around the woods. It’s also worth keeping your eyes peeled for nuthatches, marsh tits and treecreepers on the woodland trail. More unusual visitors have included a hawfinch near the Lackford Run, a ring ouzel on the riverbank, and two snow buntings flying over the yard two minutes ago!