Sunday, 2 September 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (1st September 2018)

The beginning of a new month signalled little change in terms of sightings, but it was a pleasantly warm day with temperatures typically between 22°C - 24°C.

Despite excellent photos from some visitors during the week, the Woodcock was unfortunately rather elusive this time round. What was even stranger is the reports of not one but two individuals underneath the boardwalk earlier this week.

That said, there were reports of two Snipe alongside Victor's Hide. When we went to investigate, one could be seen sleeping on the edge of the scrape, whilst the second was apparently hiding among the reeds.

The following was seen from 12.30pm:
Buzzard x 1
Kestrel x 1
Greenfinch x 4 - Plenty of juveniles moving around the feeders near the Jarvis Hide.
Chaffinch x 8
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 2
Bullfinch x 2
Long-tailed Tit x 5
Marsh Tit x 2
Reed Warbler x 2
Snipe x 1 - As previously mentioned, only the one bird was seen but a second was hiding among the reeds.
Pheasant x 2
Swallow x 1

In final news, a family of Spotted Flycatchers (with four juveniles) could be seen feeding in the oak trees around the entrance to the reserve, last Sunday afternoon. They were probably only passing through as there have been no reports of any breeding birds on the reserve this year.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (25th August 2018)

Typically the middle of August can be a quiet time of year for bird sightings and this unfortunately proved to be the case at Sculthorpe Moor, throughout the afternoon.

That said, shortly after our arrival we were made aware of a particularly confident Woodcock, which had taken up residence in the wooded area immediately below the boardwalk, on the approach to the Volunteers' Hide.

This is highly usual behaviour for a bird that is known to take refuge in dense cover, during the day, and will only make an appearance if flushed by someone passing too closely. However, not only did we get excellent views on two separate occasions, but some of the other visitors to the reserve had managed to get excellent photos during the past week (see below).

The breeding season had clearly come to an end and it was noticeable by how many juveniles could be seen across the reserve, mainly on the feeders. Also, as had previously been reported, there were only two fledglings from the Marsh Harrier nest, but given that there had been no breeding pairs on the reserve for the last two years, it has been a bit of a success story.

The following was seen from 12.30pm:
Bullfinch x 5
Greenfinch x 3
Moorhen x 2
Goldfinch x 2
Marsh Tit x 1
Coal Tit x 1
Cormorant x 1
Sparrowhawk x 1 - A male seen perched in a Birch tree, immediately opposite the Whitley Hide.
Reed Warbler x 1

Monday, 9 July 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (8th July 2018)

Another incredibly warm day at Sculthorpe, with temperatures easily exceeding 24°C by midmorning.

It was due in part to the humid weather that there was a significant increase in butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies across the reserve. The butterfly numbers were particularly impressive, with Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Painted Lady, Large White, Small White and Tortoiseshell seen throughout the morning.

Light Emerald moth, found on the boardwalk.

The nesting activities of the majority of birds on the reserve is now in the final stages. A Marsh Harrier fledgling was seen in front of the Whitley Hide on the 4th July. There are four chicks in the nest and hopefully the others will make an appearance any day now. 

It has now been confirmed that a pair of Barn Owls have occupied the nest box in the shelter, accompanied by two chicks and an egg. Whilst this news is particularly promising, it is worth noting that they have only just started to breed despite the adults taking up residence as early as the 4th March!

Also, there were plenty of juvenile Reed Warblers perched in the small trees, just above the reeds, not far from the Johnson Hide. The adults were continuing to bring them food throughout the morning.

The following was seen from 8.00am:
Bulfinch x 2
Marsh Tit x 2
Long-tailed Tit x 1
Jay x 1
Swift x 5
Linnet x 1 - Seen from the Whitley Hide, perched in a bush. 
Reed Bunting x 3
Reed Warbler x 8 - A significant number of the sightings were fledglings, near the Johnson Hide. 
Buzzard x 1
Chiffchaff x 1 - Heard calling repeatedly, near the Whitley Hide.

Water Vole x 2 - Both sightings were close to the boardwalk. The first was seen on Bittern Drain, eating some vegetation, whilst the second suddenly appeared swimming past the Dyke Viewing Platform.  

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (16th June 2018)

The warm weather continued at Sculthorpe Moor, with temperatures remaining at around 18°C.

Now that we're well into June, the nesting activity of most birds has reached the fledgling stage. This included the single Tawny Owl chick, in the nest box behind the Forest School, which has now vacated the nest. 

However, the Marsh Harriers are continuing to feed their four young, with the parents making sporadic flights away from the nest. The young will be at an advanced stage of development by now and should be fledgling any time soon.

Early bumblebee sitting on a Foxglove flower.

Common Lizard on the edge of the boardwalk.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Buzzard x 2
Bullfinch x 2
Red Kite x 1
Greenfinch x 3
Dunnock x 1
Reed Warbler x 4 - Plenty of nesting activity across the reserve. One individual was seen regularly visiting a nest immediately in front of the Johnson hide. 
Jay x 2
Lapwing x 1
Swift x 3
Reed Bunting x 2
Canada Goose x 1
Greylag Goose x 1
Common Tern x 1 - It's likely to be the same bird that was seen during our previous visit. It continued to make plunging dives into the water, in front of the Whitley Hide.
Goldfinch x 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 2
Marsh Harrier x 1 - The female was seen flying low over the reed bed at around 3.45pm. The male had been seen earlier in the day.

There were good views of a Water Vole, sitting on some broken reeds, in the middle of Bittern Drain. Also, there were numerous Red Admirals flying across the reserve. 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (28th May 2018)

The warm weathered continued on the bank holiday Monday, with temperatures remaining at around 20°C.

With the continuation of the warm weather, there were plenty of developments across the reserve, since our previous visit. The Tawny Owl chick, near the Forest School, is still continuing to receive plenty of food and should leave the nest box any day now.

Whilst another Tawny Owl chick has been seen by plenty of people, since it fledged a nest near the Whitley Hide. For the second year in a row now, the female parent of that chick has chosen to nest in a dead tree rather than the nearby Whitley nest box.

The Mute Swan nest, on the approach to the Johnson Hide, has now been vacated with two infertile eggs left behind. However, the latest reports suggest that there are four cygnets on the river, with the parents close-by.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Greenfinch x 1
Buzzard x 3
Tufted Duck x 1
Little Grebe x 2
Marsh Harrier x 2 - The pair were on show close to the Whitley Hide, with the female not flying far from the nest at around 3.20pm. All four chicks appear to be doing well.

The Marsh Harrier chicks in the nest. Photo taken by staff at Sculthorpe Moor. 
Reed Bunting x 2
House Martin x 5 - The first sightings for this year, but unfortunately no sign of the Sand Martins.
Kestrel x 1
Swallow x 2
Reed Warbler x 6
Marsh Tit x 1
Bullfinch x 1
Blackcap x 1

Monday, 14 May 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (12th May 2018)

It was a warm day at Sculthorpe Moor, with some light rain in the afternoon.

There continued to be signs of spring across the reserve, with the Tawny Owls continuing to raise only the one chick now. Unfortunately, despite the two adults incubating the five eggs initially, only one egg managed to hatch successfully.

It appears that the adult Tawny Owls have been feeding the chick quite a varied diet, including a Mallard duckling, a Mole and what looked like a Moorhen chick.

Also, a pair of Treecreepers were building a nest, behind some tree bark, on the approach to the Volunteers' Hide. A photo of which was taken by Robert Grenfell and can be seen on his Twitter page (

Finally, there are reports of a pair of Barn Owls in the box near the Jarvis Hide, which will hopefully breed soon, and the Mute Swans are continuing to incubate 6-7 eggs near the Johnson Hide.

The following was seen since 12.30pm:
Swallow x 2
Bullfinch x 5
Willow Warbler x 1 - Appeared in the trees, alongside the track from the Visitor Centre.
Greenfinch x 1
Canada Goose x 3
Lapwing x 2
Sedge Warbler x 1 - Several heard throughout the afternoon.
Nuthatch x 1
Reed Bunting x 4
Marsh Tit x 1
Grey Wagtail x 1 - Walking up and down the mud, immediately in front of the Johnson hide.
Mistle Thrush x 1 - Seen from a distance, in front of the shelter, near Victor's Hide. Possibly the same bird that was only seen on the 25th March.
Jay x 1
Cuckoo x 2 - At least two birds were heard during the afternoon, with one sighting near the Johnson Hide.
Great Spotted Woodpecker x 1
Grey Heron x 2
Reed Warbler x 1 - One very good sighting, but several more were heard throughout the day.

At least one Marsh Harrier was seen by the public, as the pair obviously continue with their nest building. Also, one visitor managed to get an excellent photo of a Weasel, as it was seen near Old Gits Corner.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Sightings at Sculthorpe Moor (21st April 2018)

It was easily the warmest day at Sculthorpe Moor this year, with temperatures reaching around 19°C.

In addition to the warm weather, there were signs of spring across the reserve, including the first Cuckoo sightings of the season. The first was seen perched in a tree in the middle of Oak Fen, just above the Kestrel box. Whilst a second was seen, from Victor's Hide, sitting on a wire at the back of the reedbeds. This is coincidentally the same location that the first Cuckoo was seen last year, on the 23rd April. 

The reserve's youngest warden taking photos.

The following was seen from 12.30pm:
Sparrowhawk x 1
Bullfinch x 6
Buzzard x 3
Greenfinch x 1
Reed Bunting x 4
Little Grebe x 2
Lapwing x 3
Kestrel x 1
Goldfinch x 1
Cuckoo x 2 - As previously mentioned, the first sightings of the year and within 2 days of last year's sightings. 
Reed Warbler x 3 - At least three birds were seen, but several more could be heard calling on the approach to the Johnson Hide. 
Canada Goose x 1
Water Vole x 1 - It was seen swimming along the Bittern Drain, not long after the sighting of a young otter. 

Also, the warm weather resulted in large numbers of butterflies across the reserve, including Brimstone, Peacock and Small White.

Mute Swan sitting on its nest, on the approach to the Johnson Hide.

The previously reported activities of the Tawny Owls, continued without any new developments as the 'pair' of adults are continuing to incubate their five eggs. After discussing the behaviour with someone from a local charity who cares for injured birds of prey, they stated that they may be incubating the eggs because one adult would be unable to effectively cover so many eggs.

Finally, there have been reports of a male and two female Marsh Harriers visiting the reserve in recent days. This was then followed by sightings around the 10th April of a pair mating and carrying nesting material into the reeds. If this continues and they breed, it will be in the first time in three years that we'll have a pair nesting on the reserve. It was in 2015 that Mrs H, the reserve's long term resident female, mysteriously disappeared and a different female raised a couple of young in the reed at the back of The Scrape