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Latest wildlife news from Lackford Lakes

Ducks and small birds of November

There are still plenty of snipe out on The Slough of late with plenty of lapwings too. Shoveler, teal, gadwall, wigeon and tufted ducks can also be seen from Paul’s, Bernard’s and the Double-decker hides with kingfisher showing very well at Paul’s, Bernard’s and Bess’s hides.

Out on the field feeders on Church walk, bullfinch, reed bunting and the occasional tree sparrow have been seen several times in the past week.

Pochard are still congregating on the sailing lake with tufted ducks and the odd goldeneye which can also be seen down at Steggall’s and Derek’s hides. Wigeon are coming in at Long Reach and can be seen from Bess’ hide.

At the visitor centre, the nuthatch is still a regular visitor along with marsh tit, coal, blue and great tits and the occasional flock of long-tailed tits too.

Goldcrest have been spotted along the edge of the golf course near Derek’s hide. A male goosander has been coming in in the evening at Steggall’s hide and siskin have been seen on the alder trees along the path by the sailing lake.

Fly-over sightings this past week have included plenty of redwing, linnet and bramblings and some yellow hammers too.

Updated Tuesday 21st November 2017.

Lots of signs of autumn now

As we head into October, we are seeing even more signs of autumn around the reserve.  The leaves of the trees are just begining to change colour and fungi has started to appear around the reserve.  

Look out also for changes in the birds around the reserve and in their behaviour.  Jays have been very busy this week, flying back and forward, collecting seeds around the reserve so it is a good time to see these amazing colourful birds.  Duck numbers continue to increase with wigeon now back on some of our lakes - the slough from Paul's hide and long reach from Bess's hide are the best location for seeing the ducks at lackford.  Look out also for good numbers of tufted duck, pochard and teal on these lakes.  Smaller birds are beginning to move around in mixed flocks so look out for long-tailed tits, great tits and goldcrest in these flocks.  A few weeks back we had some very early siskin on the reserve so look out for more turning up soon.  Another bird to look out in autumn is the the snipe - these can often be found hiding on the slough so worth a good scan from any of the hides overlooking this area.

Even though it is autumn, there is still a fair bit of activity from our insects around the reserve though sunnier days are best.  Yesterday, there were still good numbers of butterflies to be seen with painted lady, small copper, brown argus, red admiral and comma all being seen.  Look out also for some dragonflies like common darter and migrant hawker flying around.  We have also been seeing quite a lot of hornets flying around as well.

Updated Saturday 7th October

Early autumn wildlife

As we head into autumn at Lackford, we’re seeing many signs on the reserve; the occasional snipe and common sandpiper have been appearing with duck numbers building up steadily. We now have increasing numbers of tufted duck, and pochard on the sailing lake and teal numbers on the Slough continue to grow. In the next week, the water levels on the slough will be dropped, exposing more mud with shallows, so we hope see more passage waders attracted as a feeding stop-off as migration builds up (watch this space!).

Other avian signs of autumn include snippets of sub-song from blackcap, chiffchaff and dunnock, while jays have been seen collecting acorns. The visitor centre feeders have been a hive of activity with large numbers of common tit species visiting in a constant stream, joined by marsh tit, chiffchaff, a very aggressive willow warbler, and the reappearance of long-tailed tit. Also on the visitor centre pond, a kingfisher has been active today, showing well through most of the day with an otter seen in the pool this afternoon. Hobby is still being sighted and there are reports of late great crested grebe chicks at the far end of the reserve (Hawker pool/Steggalls hide).  Also during the last few days we have seen a few siskin around the reserve which is an early autumn record for these birds.

Continuing the mammal theme, the mammal box camera has been re-installed outside the visitor centre and within an hour or so, common shrew and bank vole were captured on screen.

There are still good numbers of butterflies, including impressive numbers of fresh red admirals and brown argus. Dragonfly species reflect the autumn theme, with increased numbers of migrant hawker and a few willow emerald damselfies.

Updated Friday 8th September 2017

Late Summer and a hint of autumn

August is a time were we can still see signs of summer but also a hit of autumn around the reserve.  

Hobbies and common terns (including at least one juvenile) are still being seen regularly and kingfishers are still around (close views of a bird fishing from the Reserve centre this afternoon and around the familiar site near Hawker Pool)

Occasional/single waders such as greenshank and black-tailed godwit are also turning up. With others such as wood sandpiper arriving at other sites (eg SWT Micklemere) in recent days, it is always worth a hopeful scan of The Slough for a new arrival.

The build-up of duck flocks in eclipse continues, with large numbers of gadwall gathering and teal reappearing in small moulting flocks.  Look out also for signs of late breeding ducks such as great crested grebes on the eastern lakes and tufted ducks.  This week there has been a fresh brood of tufted duck on Long Reach viewable from Bess's hide - she had nine tiny tufted ducks with her.

Butterflies are still amazing visitors in both numbers and species, including relatively new appearances/re-appearances of brown argus (near viewing platform and Church Walk), ringlet and large skipper. Since the last update, there have been two new records for the reserve; purple hairstreak and white admiral. Other insects of note are ruddy darter and southern hawker (and very likely migrant hawker) dragonflies and unusually large numbers of pond skaters have been seen on the pool in front of Bernard's hide.  It is worth looking through your binoculars at the surface of our pools and lakes to take a closer look at the insects that lurk there.

Updated Fri 4th August
 

Excellent time for butterflies and dragonflies

This past week has been excellent for butterflies and dragonflies on the reserve- on 7th July our first brown argus was seen in the Breckland area of the Kingfisher trail, and there are plenty of them out now on Church Walk too. They can often be found in the company of common blue and small copper butterflies, feeding on the bright yellow dandelion-like flowers of cat’s ear. There are lots of red admiral and painted lady butterflies which adore the pale pink fluffy blooms of hemp agrimony- this plant grows well around the pond dipping platform and is nice and tall- often giving good views of insects at a convenient head-height! Both red admiral and painted lady are very closely related species, and both migrate here from southern Europe, Asia and Africa every year and lay their eggs on the many thistles and nettles on the reserve, causing a second flush of them to be seen later in the season. Our gatekeeper population is now in full swing, with plenty of them to be seen alongside meadow brown and ringlets in the grassier areas- they especially love to feed on ragwort and bramble flowers.

The warm sunny weather also tempts our dragonflies and damselflies in large numbers, with emperor, brown hawker and black-tailed skimmers a common sight patrolling the pools and paths around the reserve. A careful look amongst the many banded demoiselles over the stream outside Bess’s Hide may be rewarded with an emerald damselfly- much more delicate and not so vividly metallic green as a female banded demoiselle, these pretty insects rest with their wings half open at the waters’ edge. Hawker Pool is still a good spot for seeing red-eyed, azure and common blue damselflies too.

Occasional sightings of a spotted flycatcher in Ash Carr and a barn owl hunting over the reedbeds at the back of The Slough are among the bird highlights. Bullfinches, green woodpeckers and great spotted woodpeckers are regularly seen from the Centre, as is a daily visit or two from the local sparrowhawk and jay. Occasional green sandpipers are spotted on The Slough, joining our resident pair of oystercatchers and 20+ lapwings. A visit to Lackford in the coming days should be rewarded with good views of a wide variety of insects and some interesting behaviour from our resident birds as they begin to congregate in post-breeding flocks, supplemented by this years’ young, to feed or to moult together. Do let us in the Centre know what you see during your time here- we’d love to know!

updated 13th July 2017

Watery Summer Wildlife

Geese and lapwings are increasing in numbers on the Slough from Bernard’s and also at the other end of the reserve at Steggall’s. Green sandpiper has been spotted on several occasions from Paul’s and Steggall’s hides. Blackcap, chiffchaff, reed warbler and sedge can be heard calling from around the reserve and bullfinches have been heard calling from outside the double-decker hide. Kingfishers are still being seen at various places around the reserve having all fledged from their nests now. There have been occasional sightings of spotted flycatcher from Ash Carr along with a juvenile robin which has raised many complaints that it is hard to photograph the bird as it likes to sit on your lens!

Many dragonflies and damselflies are now on the wing and recent additions to this list are southern hawkers and common darters. Banded demoiselle can still be seen especially around the bridge at Bess’ hide. Caterpillars of peacocks and small tortoiseshell can be seen nibbling on nettles.

Butterflies are making the most of the hot weather with lots of red admiral, small tortoiseshell, gatekeepers, meadow browns and skippers on the wing. Also, the odd brimstone and painted lady have been spotted. Hemp agrimony is beginning to come into flower and this is a favourite of silver-washed fritillaries.

Updated 5th July 2017

Breeding carries on for some and ends for others.

Breeding continues apace; young kingfishers are now on the wing around the reserve and common terns on the Slough have at least one chick well on the way. There are cygnets with mute swans, and great crested (and little) grebes still with older chicks. We even have leucistic moorhen youngsters (with a lot of white in the developing plumage) generating interest from the visitor centre.

At the other end of the breeding spectrum, and a very early sign of autumn round the corner, several species of wildfowl are now beginning to form post-breeding moulting flocks. Examples include up to 47 mute swans on the sailing lake and various duck species (mainly gadwall) on The Slough from Paul’s Hide.

Other avian highlights include, hobby, seen regularly (mainly from Paul’s & Double Decker hides), turtle dove, sporadically heard or seen around the reserve and a mediterranean gull seen briefly from Pauls hide.

Being high summer now and with the very warm weather, it is no surprise that dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies are a highlight of any visit to Lackford. Up to 14 species of butterflies and a similar number for dragon/damselflies can be seen at sites around the reserve, such as Bernard’s Hide, The Summer Trail, and approaching Hawker Pool and Bess’s. Highlights include emperor and four spot chaser dragonfly along with large emergences of strikingly fresh ringlet, red admiral and meadow brown butterflies.

Updated 23rd June 2017

Dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies in abundance!

The very warm weather this past week has brought out a few more butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies on the reserve. On the last day of May the first painted lady of 2017 was seen and June has begun with the first meadow brown today. Together with other recent additions- common blue, small heath and small copper, the total for the year now stands at 16 species. Hotspots for these include the sunnier parts of the kingfisher trail and the short flowery grassland next to Double Decker hide- check the yellow flowerheads of creeping cinquefoil and horseshoe vetch for feeding occupants! This week we also reached double figures for our damselflies and dragonflies- emperor, banded demoiselle and hairy dragonfly have stolen the show, and there’s plenty of four-spotted chasers and azure damselflies patrolling the pools and fighting among themselves for prime perches and the best territory. The viewing platform and summer trail are especially good places to watch for their aerobatics.

Whilst it might sound odd, even the moths are performing in the sunshine too- day-flying species such as cinnabar and burnet companion are basking in the heat. Look for them in amongst tall grasses and sharing the first bramble blossom with the bees, hoverflies and beetles. Dog rose and dogwood are both in flower, looking magnificent and acting as magnets for flying insects!

The pair of spotted flycatchers occupying ash carr are still giving good views, and lots of warblers can be heard singing their hearts out around kingfisher trail- blackcap, willow warbler, garden warbler and whitethroat- with the rarer and more secretive lesser whitethroat often being seen too. A pair of common terns can be seen dancing over the slough, hunting for fish, and kingfishers are showing very well on hawker pool, where they are breeding in the artificial bank there. Several lakes are occupied by a pair of great crested grebes, sometimes with young in tow, and the exotic red-crested pochard often pop up in front of Bess’s hide.

A trip to Lackford promises variety and interest- with our species lists for the year growing most days- so please let us know what you’ve seen in the Centre after your visit!

Updated 1st June 2017

Turtle doves and dragonflies

The latest arrival this week to the reserve is that of the spotted flycatcher. It's been seen in a couple of locations such as Ash Carr and outside the visitor centre, so worth keeping your eyes peeled for this one. Turtle dove was seen this morning from the double-decker hide on one of the scrapes. Hobby have been increasing in numbers too with at least 4 seen hunting over the sailing lake. Also on this lake, common tern have been hanging around, with the occasional black tern dropping in too and plenty of hirundines. Cuckoo can still be heard and seen around the reserve, especially in the morning. Nightingale are also heard and the main hotspots tend to be around Bernard's hide and around the car park.

Red-crested pochard are often seen at Mill Deep along with little grebe. Great-crested grebes with their chicks can be seen at Steggall's and Bess' hides. Nuthatch and treecreepers are among the regular sightings from Ash Carr along with the occasional hoot from a tawny owl. The kingfisher at Hawker pool has been seen several times taking fish into the hole, which is a good sign as it is likely it's feeding young.

The first dragonflies have started to emerge with sightings of four-spot chasers and broad-bodied chasers along with large red and common blue damselflies. On the butterfly front, small copper and many others such as green-veined white, brimstone are being seen. As the weather warms as is predicted, we will see many more take to the wing.

Please report ALL your sightings to the staff at the visitor centre when visiting the reserve, as you are our eyes and ears on the reserve.

Thank you.

Updated 20th May 2017

Great birds continue

This week was similar in many ways to last week with lots of activity from our birds.  There are still lots of warblers to be seen and heard, a few more hobby have been seen on a more regular basis and little ringed plovers are still on the slough.

The common terns have been great again on the sailing lake and the occasional black tern has visited on the sailing lake or on long reach viewable from Bess's hide.

The red-crested pochard has been present occasionally on mill deep viewable from Fullers Mill hide.

Nightingale continues to sing from a few locations around the reserve - around the car park and between Bernard's hide / Double Decker hide seems to be the best locations.

Our kingfishers have started to show on Hawker pool as we believe they have started to feed young in the artificial bank so is worth spending a little while looking from the bench to see if you can spot the parents flying in with a fish.

Moving away from birds now.  We have seen more in the way of damselflies and butterflies this week when it is sunny.  Both large-red damselfly and common blue damselflies have been seen.  Butterflies recorded include: holly blue, brimstone, comma and peacock.  Hopefully this warmer and sunny weather this weekend will bring a few more out.

Updated Friday 12th May 2017

Great birds on the sailing lake

This past week has seen even more great birds at the lakes with lots of action coming from the sailing lake area of the reserve.  For much of this week, the sailing lake has been the place to check with lots of swallows and house martins feeding over the water.  Terns have been great too with a good number of common terns being present on most days and to top it off, it has been the best spot on the reserve to see hobby hunting.

Moving away from the sailing lake, there is still lots of bird song including reed warbler, blackcap, garden warbler and whitethroat.  Another noisy bird is the cuckoo that has been heard around the reserve again this week.  This week has also seen an increase in our star songster, the nightingale.  We believe that we have six birds singing around the reserve.  Best spots for hearing a nightingale is around the car park area and around Bernard's hide.

Our little ringed plovers are still present on the slough.  Here we have seen a few dunlin and common sandpiper visiting also on some days.

Other water birds of note include the great-crested grebes nesting on the eastern lakes and red-crested pochard has been seen from Fullers mill hide on a few days this week.

Moving away from birds, we have seen a few butterflies and damselflies around.  Orange-tip butterflies are still the most common butterfly to be seen and a few more large-red damselflies can be found also.

Updated Friday 5th May 2017

Changeable weather results in great birds

This past week has seen the weather all over the place but this did not stop some great birds from making an appearance.

A week ago, we got the first sighting of a turtle dove for the year but it has now got difficult to see or hear with only the occasional reports throughout the week but it is worth checking the start of church walk if you were to visit the reserve.

That area is also great for the warblers - listen out for whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, willow warbler and chiffchaff at the start of church walk.

Moving around the corner from the centre towards the sailing lake, you might hear a nightingale at that spot and it is also where one of our garden warblers is spending a bit of time.

The sailing lake has been a good spot to see many different birds this week with lots of swallows, house martins and sand martins feeding over the lake.  Common tern was there today and on Thursday ahead of rain saw two arctic terns making a quick visit.

This weather change on Thursday, also saw a dunlin spending a bit of time on the slough.  All week the two little ringed plovers seem quite a home on the slough as well.  Last weekend, saw a brief visit from a common sandpiper there as well so it is another place worth a check during a visit to the lakes.

As you carry on walking along our trails listen out to all those warblers singing and there has been a couple of cuckoo calling around the reserve.  Look out also for some butterflies when it is sunny - still plenty of orange-tips around and the occassion small copper has been seen this week.

Down the eastern end of the reserve, look out for all those nesting great crested grebes and from fullers mill hide, there has been a red-crested pochard.

Back to the area around the centre, reed warblers have been particularly vocal and high above has been a handful of swifts.  Thursday as saw the bird record of the year so far, a house sparrow was sitting on the roof of the centre.  Some years we don't see this bird at all on the reserve so this was a great spot.  

All these birds this week, takes our year total to 119 species for 2017.

Updated Saturday 29th April 2017.

More arrivals

More arrivals from far flung shores landed this week, which was heralded with the iconic sound of a cuckoo echooing out across the reserve on Saturday morning. On the Sunday, the first lesser whitethroats were heard singing from the bushes on Church walk near the field feeders.

Great crested grebes can still be observed from the hides at the eastern end of the reserve and swallows, house martins and sand martins are gathering in numbers and can often be seen swooping low over the sailing lake.

Nightingale arrived on the 18th and can be heard singing from around the bushes outside the centre along with a garden warbler, which arrived today. This leaves only the swift, hobby and turtle dove to make an appearance now. When will they arrive?

Chiffchaff and blackcap can still be heard sing from various parts of the reserve and it's still possible to catch the song thrush singing from beside the centre.

Little-ringed plovers remain on the Slough with the odd sighting of snipe daily. Today, two yellow-legged gulls were also seen on the Slough.

Elsewhere on the reserve, we have already had sightings of the first damselfly of the year, a large red damselfly from Derek's hide and as the weather warms (hopefully), many more will start to emerge. 

One very unusual sighting was of a rare fly that looks like a hornet. Conops versicular was found by Sarah West in hiding out of the wind. It is only the third record for Suffolk, so was an excellent find.

Updated Friday 21st March 2017

 

Change in weather brings swallows and martins

The middle of the week saw a slight change in the weather to a bit more wind and cloudy conditions - the ideal conditions for some birds to make an appearance.

Almost immediately, swallows, sand martins and house martins were seen feeding over the lakes.  Today saw quite a few of all of these feeding over the slough and sailing lakes area of the reserve.

Warbler wise - reed warbler is now singing from a few locations on the reserve.  The reeds in front of the centre are a good location to listen for both reed and sedge warbler.  Willow warblers have increased and we now have four singing birds on the reserve - two of them are around the centre.  Lots of singing chiffchaff and blackcap around the reserve as well.

A common tern was recorded for the first time this year on the sailing lake and there has been a couple of little ringed plovers on the slough.

Other birds of interest around the reserve including the great crested grebes down at the eastern end of the reserve, some very late brambling been seen around the kingfisher trail and the nuthatches in ash carr.

As we head into the second half of April, even more birds will arrive, making these next three weeks a great time to visit Lackford Lakes to see and listen to their songs. 

Updated Friday 14th April 2017

Anticipation Building!

As April unfolds, recent sunny days have seen a daily increase in numbers and species of butterflies. New since the last update are small white, holly blue and large white butterfkies and a noticeable increase in orange-tips on the wing. With good weather forecast for this weekend, we can anticipate even more of these and other new species for the year.

Settled conditions in the last day or so have slowed the appearance of migrant birds a little but the march of Spring is still apparent with the first willow warbler of the year appearing today, in song off and on. An early whitethroat was heard on 2nd April with a yellow wagtail appearing on the 6th. With non-migrant species like red kite also increasing in numbers and visibility, we anticipate a steady build in the numbers and species of birds throughout April – look out for sand martin and swallow, both of which have already put in single appearances.

Our kingfishers are somewhat quiet, being in their early breeding phase but they can still be glimpsed in flight around the reserve.

Updated Fri 7th April 2017
 

A few more migrant birds have arrived

The south, south westerly winds of the past few days has begun to bring in a few spring migrants birds. Yesterday we had the first sedge warblers seen in the reeds by the visitor centre. Blackcaps can be heard singing from several places around the reserve and there are thought to be at least 5 individuals on site. More chiffchaff have arrived and can be heard nearly everywhere on site. The first swallow of the year has been seen over the sailing lake along with a little gull. This brings our bird species count up to 102 species for the year with plenty more to come. Red kites are being seen more frequently with 4 being seen on Friday. Other sightings from around the reserve include treecreeper & nuthatch from Ash Carr, snipe, little grebe, redshank, shelduck, teal, shoveler, gadwall, little egret the occasional little ringed plover can be seen on The Slough. Kingfishers can be seen regularly at the bank at Hawker pool and great crested grebes can be seen doing their courtship dance from Bess' hide.

Butterflies are taking to the wing with brimstone, comma, small tortoiseshell, peacock, speckled wood, orange-tip and red admiral being spotted.

There has also been a lot of sightings of grass snakes from around the Bess' hide area of the reserve, often swimming across Long Reach.

Please report all your sightings to the visitor centre before you leave, as you are our eyes and ears as to what can be seen in and around the reserve

Updated 1st April

Stepping up a gear

With the warmer weather in the last week, it seems things have stepped up a gear around the reserve. More and more chiffchaffs are being seen and heard around the reserve with the odd blackcap joining in too. Up to 3 pairs of great crested grebes have been seen from Bess' hide performing their ritual mating dance. Long-tailed tits have been seen on various parts of the reserve carrying nesting material and kingfishers have been seen visiting the false bank at Hawker pool. Another sign of spring came in the arrival of sand martins seen over the sailing lake on the 18th. Tree sparrow has been observed visiting the field feeders and a marsh harrier was seen drifting lazily over the reedbeds in front of the visitor centre.

Goshawk has been seen flying over the reserve and up to 5 snipe have been recorded from both Steggall's and The Slough. Herons can still be seen gathering in numbers from Bernard's hide and the reports of the odd water rail are coming in from Paul's, Double-decker and the small ditch by the visitor centre. Little owl was seen on the path near the golf club.

There are plenty of teal, shoveler, gadwall and pochard on many of the lakes and many of them getting quite fiesty as they all compete for a mate and we still have some goldeneye on the sailing lake and Hawker pool. But it won't be long before they leave.

On the insect front, the warm weather has brought out a few bumblebees and still the odd sighting of butterflies such as brimestone and small tortoiseshell.

Updated Mon 20th March 2017

Spring Is All Around Us

In all manner of ways, our wildlife is telling us Spring is here! We've had a marked increase in waders on the Slough in the last few days; green sandpiper and redshank have dropped in.  Today, there were 5 snipe in front of Bernard’s Hide and a pair of oystercatchers are displaying & mating across from Paul’s Hide. Two curlew also flew over the reserve on 4th March. In line with reports of migrants arriving further south, anything could turn up in the next week or two.

Breeding and courtship behaviour are becoming more obvious all over the reserve with blackcap and chiffchaff song being heard for the first time this year (the latter possibly an overwintering bird or a very early migrant?). Long-tailed tits are nest building near Paul’s Hide and a great crested grebe nest is taking shape from Steggall’s.

Other news includes flyovers of red kite, the appearance of 3 red-crested pochard (1 male and 2 females reported), kingfisher again in front of the visitor centre and on the Slough, and up to 18 grey herons on the Slough. There are still siskins and redpolls to be seen and a pair of stock doves have been dropping onto The Slough quite regularly.

This brings the bird count for the year up to 92 and we now have our first sightings of butterflies on the wing; brimstone, small tortoiseshell and comma, all appearing for the first time on the 9th of March (a particularly sunny Thursday!).

Updated Fri 10th March 2017

Early signs of spring as winter activity fades

Kingfishers are showing some activity at the nesting bank on Hawker Pool and oystercatcher has appeared as one of our early Spring visitors. Sightings of red kite are becoming more regular, perhaps another sign of spring activity, and pairs of great crested grebes are returning to several of the lakes around the reserve (such as Hawker Pool and The Slough). With Spring around the corner, winter roosts of starlings and gulls are on the decline.

Typical winter species are still around with siskin & redpoll showing well in a mixed flock and on feeders along the Sailing Lake path. A bittern was a second winter sighting but new for 2017, taking the year bird count to 85 species.

Rounding things off today, a chunky female goshawk flew over, heading towards King’s Forest beyond the reserve.

Updated Fri 24th Feb 2017

More of a hint of spring

The spring like weather this week has resulted in more birds beginning to sing with plenty of song thrushes, great tits, blue tits, dunnock and robin being heard around the reserve.

There are still plenty of winter ducks around the reserve with around five goldeneye on the sailing lake or hawker pool, wigeon at Bess’s hide and teal on the slough being some of the highlights.

There is one great crested grebe down at Bess’s hide in full breeding plumage so hopefully another one will turn up soon.

Small birds are still amazing with siskin by the feeders next to the sailing lake, nuthatch in the wood and a few bullfinches around.

Another sign of spring comes in the way of birds of prey. We saw our first red kite of the year. These tend to be seen more frequently during spring so keep an eye when you next visit. Other birds of prey to look for include buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk.

Raven was noted again this week and the Mediterranean gull has been spotted on a number of occasions from Bess’s hide.

Roost wise – Both the gull roost and starling roost are still happening but numbers have reduced a lot this week as it has warmed up. It is now best being here for 5pm onwards to catch these birds arriving.

Updated Friday 17th February 2017

Lakes and Feeders

Through flurries of snow, the sailing lake is attracting large numbers of gulls and ducks; over 10 000 gulls of various species come in to roost on the sailing lake between 4 & 5 pm and typical duck counts include well over 100 pairs of teal, 44 pairs of tufted duck, 30+ pairs of gadwall (with a further 10 on the Slough), a high count for this species, 40+pairs of pochard and 4 pairs of goldeneye.

The Slough also hosted shoveler and shelduck along with 6 lapwing and 3 snipe, the latter from Double Decker Hide. Centre feeders have been attracting birds in good numbers; including long-tailed tit (15), robin (9) and an occasional greater spotted woodpecker. Also on feeders (signposted along the sailing lake path) are groups of siskin and redpoll, the males of each species looking particularly handsome at close quarters.

Other highlights include several redwings in and around Ash Carr along with nuthatch and treecreeper, and a couple of bullfinch pairs are showing and calling well around Double-decker Hide, adding to the pair that seem to be resident around the field feeders. Kingfishers are still making appearances at the Visitor Centre, in front of which the starling roost drops in at around 4.30pm.

More unusual sightings include a raven in flight on Weds (always worth looking out for since there have been other sightings recently) and on Monday, a ring-tail hen harrier on the Lackford side of the reserve.

Updated 8th Feb 2017

Early bird song defies the grip of winter

Our open water has now thawed; the gull roost on the sailing lake from 3.30/4.00 onwards is spectacular with thousands of gulls of various species. A mediterranean gull joined the many black headed gulls on The Slough then flew onto the sailing lake (Fri 3rd Feb) and one was reported from Bess’s hide on Weds 1st.

The starling roost is probably at its best so far this winter with around 6000 birds displaying and dropping into reeds in front of the visitor centre (now getting a little later, between 4 & 5pm).

Despite the continuing wintry feel, now might be a good time to learn some resident bird song before migrants arrive to confuse the ears! Song thrush, dunnock & robin are beginning to sing and calls of chaffinch, bullfinch and great tit are becoming more obvious. This heralds the beginning of breeding in these species.

Siskins and redpolls are still around in feeding flocks, kingfisher has been a little more regular again in front of the visitor centre. Two drake pintail have been around this last week and there have been some goosanders on the slough towards the end of the day.

Updated, Friday 3rd Feb 2017

Frozen!

Although much of the open water has been frozen over this week, there is still a lot to see on the reserve. The Sailing Lake gull roost has been concentrated and pushed closer to the viewing bank. There are two adult yellow-legged gulls and at least one immature amongst the hundreds of black headed and other gull species. With the gulls, good views of duck species can be had from the Sailing Lake path, including some smart goldeneye.

In the woodlands we have good flocks of siskin with a redpoll or two, and nuthatch joining species such as marsh tit at feeding stations.

In the fields along Church Walk, fieldfares are abundant and a stonechat was seen on the boundary fence today. The starling roost is coming in at around 4.15, back in front of the reserve centre, providing a spectacular end to a fine day’s winter birding.
 

That’s More Like Winter!

With recent changes in weather, Lackford is well and truly in winter mode. The Sailing Lake gull roost has several thousand birds of different species from black-headed to herring and lesser black-backed gull (with a few yellow-legged gulls and one or two individuals of rarer races being identified most days)

Starlings are coming in to roost in front of Double Decker hide and we have even had a few bewicks & whooper swans overflying the reserve in the last week, though sadly, none dropping in.

The Slough and other areas hold typical winter wildfowl with large numbers of teal and other wintering ducks & geese. Also on the Slough snipe and goosander, although the latter are irregular in time of day and location (very late in the day is best). Cormorants on The Slough are particularly handsome at the moment in breeding plumage with some showing a very white head pattern (possibly the continental race of this species which is becoming more common in the UK).


A large flock of siskins (40+) along the sailing lake track towards Paul’s hide with at least two redpolls, might have the potential for a rarer redpoll with recent cold weather & gales. An unusual wintering great crested grebe has been seen on the reserve and kingfisher is showing very close to the reserve centre along with a regular grey wagtail

Large numbers of reed buntings can be seen and heard around the reserve and other species visiting bird feeders in good numbers, bring the 2017 bird species total to 76.

Updated Friday 13th Jan 2017
 

56 bird species on the first day of 2017

Despite a wet day at Lackford for the first day of 2017 we still managed to get 56 bird species on the list.

Main highlights include grey wagtail on the centre pool, goldeneye on the sailing lake, kingfisher on the slough and the starling roost has now moved to in front of the double decker hide at 4pm.

It was quite dark for the gull roost but there is sure to be a few more gulls to add to this years list in the coming days.

Lots of small birds around our busy feeding areas at the centre including reed bunting, long-tailed tit and bullfinch.

There are still a few obvious ones missing from our list so please let us know what you see when you visit Lackford in 2017.

Updated 1st January 2017

Last update of 2016!

No huge changes since last week but this is the last update until next year.

There are 3 white-fronted geese on Long Reach and a sizeable flock of lapwing on the slough (150+). The gull roost (Sailing Lake) continues to grow and a small but variable starling roost occurs daily from around 3.30pm (peak count this week of approx. 3000 birds in front of/around the visitor centre). See previous update for other seasonal highlights (although note; there has been no further sign of bearded tits or goosanders)

The visitor centre will be closed from Mon 12th Dec, re-opening Tues 27th Dec, although the reserve itself will be open to walk around.

We wish all our visitors a very Happy Christmas!

Updated 9th Dec 2016
 

 

Well Into The Swing of Winter

With daily frosts and temperatures plummeting to minus figures, winter is all around on the reserve.

In the middle of November, excitement arrived in the shape of two bearded tits on the reed bed in front of the visitor centre (until 23rd). This is the first reserve record for many years and with the increase in reed bed habitat on the reserve, we are hopeful for more (and maybe even a welcome bittern, as in previous years).

Other notables include grey wagtail (reserve centre pool and Slough), siskin flocks with one or two redpolls worth checking for, goldcrest and nuthatch showing well in Ash Carr. Bullfinches are also showing well in small groups around the reserve (such as 4 males seen near field feeders).

Another typical sign of winter is the large duck flocks; 400+ wigeon, making record reserve total for this species and goldeneye increasing slightly to 4 drakes and a few females. Males of teal, shoveler and shelduck are in particularly fine breeding plumage at this time of year.


A barn owl has been seen regularly hunting around the reserve and tawny owls have become typically vocal at this time of year.

Winter roosts of gulls, starlings and reed buntings are also in evidence as we move into winter proper, although starling numbers have yet to build beyond 1000 or so.

Updated 2nd Dec 2016

 

First Frosts Bring Some Changes

In the last week or so, new winter visitors have appeared; goosander on the Slough (up to 3 males, late afternoons from Paul’s Hide), goldeneye (e.g. 2 pairs on Hawker Pool, this Friday), white-fronted geese (4) and pink-footed geese (2) from Bess’s Hide.

Siskins are still around and a grey wagtail now seems to be regular in front of the centre, along with kingfisher – more signs of a change to wintering behaviour? Also, now regular on feeders in front of the centre we have marsh tit and great spotted woodpecker.

Despite this distinctly chilly feel, four very late common darter dragonflies have been seen in the last few days.

STOP PRESS! - we have just witnessed (Fri 11th, 4pm) the first decent starling roost of the year with approx. 2000 birds dropping into reeds in front of the visitor centre. Hopefully this will build into a regular daily spectacle.

Updated Friday 11th November
 

Late October at Lackford

With this week’s unseasonable warmth, dragonflies such as migrant hawker & common darter are still on the wing along with red admiral and a few other species of butterfly.

Much as last week, duck numbers continue to build with teal on The Slough and from Steggall's, and large numbers of wigeon on Long Reach. Although godwits and sandpipers are still turning up, snipe were the only waders to be seen this Friday (3 showing well on the Slough and 4+ from Steggall’s) . 

Otherwise, there are a few signs of winter around the corner with siskins putting in a fleeting appearance and a good mixed flock of woodland birds; two goldcrests joining blue, great and long-tailed tit and a blackcap (between Bernard's and Double Decker hides), A yellowhammer has been seen near the field feeders (unusual for Lackford) and fieldfares are streaming through almost continually.
With these portents of winter, we are looking forward to the arrival of goldeneye in early November and goosander by the end of the month.

Updated Friday 28th October
 

October and now there are ducks

Plenty of ducks now can be found using the reserve as we head in Autumn proper. 

Duck locations are steggalls hide (teal, wigeon, shoveler, gadwall), Bess's hide (wigeon, tufted duck, grebes) overlooking long reach and the slough (teal, shoveler) viewable from Pauls, Bernards or Double Decker hides.

Wader wise - snipe showing reasonably well from time to time on the slough and down at Steggalls hide.  Lapwing on both locations as well and the occasional other wader like black-tailed godwit visiting the slough from time to time.

Small bird wise (mornings or the last few hours of daylight best) - redwings and reed bunting around centre and field feeding areas.  A few cettis warblers vocal around the Kingfisher trail.  Some siskin and goldcrest also around.

Start of the roosting birds - some gulls gathering on the sailing lake come the end of the day and reed buntings can be seen dropping into the reeds in front of centre.

As it is autumn take in the changes in colours of the leaves and reeds as you wander around the reserve.  Also look out for different types of fungi popping up by the trails.

Updated 18th October 2016

A belated end to Summer, Autumn in full swing

After a September Indian Summer, October has returned to normal, bringing clear signs of autumn in our wildlife at Lackford. Flocks of up to 100 redwings are being reported flying over with their characteristic “seep” calls, siskin flocks have been in evidence around the alders near the visitor centre and duck numbers continue to increase, with over 200 teal on the Slough alone. Potentially heralding winter, a bittern was reported at the end of September although it hasn't been  seen since.

Waders, while still low in number, are showing promise with the appearance today of a jack snipe (close views from Bernard’s hide) joining regular green and common sandpiper, and snipe (Slough & Stegal’s). With an obliging water rail from Paul’s hide and lots of exposed mud on The Slough, fingers crossed for more in the coming days.

With the recent drop in temperatures, dragonfly numbers are decreasing but typical autumn species can still be seen sunning on warm fence posts and branches and there are still butterflies such as red admiral on the wing.
 

Bird migration well under way

With an osprey over the reserve on the 3rd Sept and several reported this week in the area, migration south is clearly under way. Swallows replace house martins in large flocks passing through and there is sometimes a hobby still to be seen hunting among them. There is usually a passing green sandpiper  on The Slough, with at least 2 present on Friday afternoon (and up to 6 previously). Snipe have occasionally joined these but prove hard to see in the still lush vegetation. Little egret reached an impressive max count of 19 on The Slough and kingfishers are being seen from all 3 hides around this area.


The Autumn build-up of duck species continues and is best on Long Reach, from Bess’s hide, so far with 20+ wigeon here, some still in eclipse plumage and some well into winter garb. Similarly, gadwall numbers are increasing and there are at least half a dozen pochard. Despite this autumnal flavour, a late breeding great crested grebe was seen carrying a chick this week.


Butterflies are still on the wing with clouded yellow and common blue joining our previous summer list and the later emerging dragonflies are still around , including the darters and willow emerald.

Updtaed Friday 9th Sept

A hint of Autumn around the corner?

With 5 (probably more) green sandpipers on the slough and rising numbers of teal,  pochard and gadwall (some of the latter almost fully out of eclipse plumage), birds seem to be heralding the beginning of autumn, despite high temperatures all this week (hoping for passage species like ruff to arrive as they have at other sites locally). New for the year this week were brief visits of sandwich tern, osprey and wheatear. Up to 3 little egrets, several kingfisher sightings and a hunting female marsh harrier (reeds in front of Double Decker hide, Friday pm) complete the avian highlights.

Butterfly numbers have decreased slightly compared to recent weeks but an unexpected grayling on Friday helped to keep up the species count. Dragonflies are represented more now by the large hawkers such as southern hawker and damselflies are still aplenty, for example many common blues egg laying in front of Bess’s hide.

Updated Friday 26th August

 

Dragonflies herald late summer

A late summer feel has been introduced with a noticeable increase in numbers of migrant hawker dragonflies along with ruddy & common darter and brown hawker. A willow emerald damselfly is new for the year near Bess’s hide.

The first grayling of the year was seen last weekend and a purple hairstreak has been reported recently. Along with good numbers of brown argus, common blue, peacock, red admiral, comma and painted lady butterflies, the reserve total is now at 25 species for the year.

Birds on the reserve are fairly stable with common sandpiper, green sandpiper and common terns our main visitors. Kingfisher reports are still numerous. Worth noting that an osprey has been reported locally (Culford Lakes) and one visited Lackford at roughly the same time last year. Will it turn up over the weekend?

Updated Friday 19th August
 

Reserve Records

Two reserve records in the last week; a single black-tailed godwit on The Slough was the first of the year while a silver washed fritillary butterfly was a first ever for the reserve, boosting the reserve total to 25 species (up to 17 species of butterfly are being seen daily). Dragonflies and damselflies are also still in abundance.

In line with a general exodus from the county, the reserve swifts have departed but we have a very late nesting pair of great crested grebes (from Stegall’s hide) and other pairs with young at various stages. Kingfishers are still regular as are common sandpiper (Slough & eastern lakes), daily hobby and an occasional marsh harrier.
 

Updated Friday 5th August

 

Insects still steal the show but are waders on the up?

In the balmy (and stormy!) weather, insects continue to emerge, their numbers and activity levels rising with the temperatures. With 11 species of dragonfly and 17 species of butterfly seen today (Friday 22nd July), the latter including brown argus and painted lady.


By comparison things are relatively quiet on the avian front although wader numbers may be on the up with now 2 green sandpipers and a common sandpiper regular on The Slough and the occasional little ringed plover putting in a brief appearance. Kingfishers including juveniles are still regular around the reserve as are up to two tree sparrows on feeders. A hunting peregrine falcon caused a stir briefly along the back of the Slough on Friday afternoon, making a total of 58 species for the day.


Updated Friday 22nd July
 

 

Butterflies, Dragonflies and Kingfishers

Our kingfishers are doing well with another brood due to fledge in the next few weeks while birds from the first family are being seen regularly. The Double Decker hide and Hawker Pool sites are still the best with regular sightings at the visitor centre pool as well.

Other birds include a green sandpiper which has again been seen on The Slough recently, including today. Hobby and swifts share the skies around the reserve with swift numbers noticeably increased by recently fledged young on the wing. Tree sparrows continue to be seen in small numbers at feeders on Church Walk.

Butterflies and dragonflies continue to impress despite the uncertain weather. The various brown butterflies and skippers are present in good numbers along with favourites such as ringlet, speckled wood and green veined white. Not new to the list but making a reappearance is red-eyed damselfly and the larger hawker dragonflies. With a warming weekend predicted, we are hoping for good conditions for these and other insects.

Updated Friday 15th July

 

Summer (?) Months

After the deluges of last week, Friday brightened up and it dried out a bit to look more like summer. This has coincided with the emergence of fresh looking butterflies; in addition to last week’s browns, ringlet and speckled wood have joined the roll call. Peacock butterflies are splendid at the moment and all three skippers have been reported (large, small and Essex (though not all likely in a single visit!)

A hummingbird hawk moth feeding on viper’s bugloss was one photographer’s highlight, and a nice record.

There are now very large numbers of damselflies, which appeared in force from last week but this week also saw some new species, such as large red damselfly, broad bodied chaser and black tailed skimmer dragonflies.

Kingfishers are continuing to entertain, being even more in evidence this week from the visitor centre, Paul’s hide and especially Double Decker where two juveniles have been seen together. Typical of these months, the odd wader has been putting in an appearance but only staying a short while with redshank and common sandpiper on the reserve. As we go on into summer the very earliest waders may appear on return migration.

Updated Friday 24th June

 

 

Insects galore!

Despite the showery week and deluge predicted for today (Friday 17th), Lackford has had some lovely weather. This has encouraged insects, with increased numbers of larger dragonflies such as hairy and - new this week – emperor dragonflies. Brown butterflies such as gatekeeper and meadow brown are in evidence for the first time along with small copper and skipper. A notable event is the nesting of tree bumblebees in the Double Decker hide – take care if using this hide, as mentioned on the notices.

In the bird world, family is the theme; kingfishers have fledged with juveniles and adults turning up in various locations (a good spot now is the Double Decker hide). Tit families abound with the peeping of young birds and warbler contact calls ringing through the trees. A rarity for the reserve turned up on Friday pm in the form of a juvenile yellow wagtail with two young pied wagtails. Also on Friday, a cracking green sandpiper bucked the trend by putting on a solitary show – hopefully a portent of things to come with better weather predicted for the weekend.

Updated friday 17th June

 

 

Full of Orchid Promise

In the last few days, our bee orchids have been flowering; we have at least three in bloom at the moment with more expected over the next fortnight. They're easy to see off the main footpath to the right of the visitor centre.

The other main event this week has been the appearance of a good range of butterfly species; brown argus, speckled wood, green veined white, red admiral and holly blue now top the list with painted lady making an appearance for the first time. Cinnabar moth is also still being seen. The summer walk is a good place for these as well as for damselflies and dragonflies. At the end of this path, turn left towards Bess’s hide and you’ll see clouds of common blue damselflies as you wait for kingfishers to appear at the nest bank (still carrying fish – surely they must fledge soon?). Hairy dragonfly is a new addition to last week’s list of odonata (the collective term for dragonflies and damselflies & the order of insects to which they belong).

No real bird news since last week but warblers are still in song, some carrying food, so no doubt still raising chicks. A count of up to 100 lapwing on The Slough is a little unexpected at this time of year but makes for a bit of a spectacle with the odd common tern (3) and little egret dropping in.

Updated Friday 10th June

 

A cool week for fledglings

Fledging birds are all around as summer begins (not that the terrible weather this week would give you a clue!). Families of blue tits, treecreepers, long-tailed tits and blackcaps have all been seen with the peeping calls of young birds to be heard in the thickets. Our red crested pochard group (Fuller’s Mill) has had up to 4 males and a female with a fairly large chick to accompany other ducklings and goslings on the reserve. Kingfishers (visible on Hawker Pool) are being seen regularly carrying large fish to the nest bank, so we would expect fledging of these most iconic Lackford birds to occur any day.

By Friday, despite the dismal autumnal temperatures and rainfall, warblers seemed to be back in almost full song; chiffchaffs every 100metres or so, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat singing near the visitor centre, reed and sedge warbler along the sailing lake path. Both garden warbler and blackcap are singing, especially around the T junction to Paul’s Hide; these two are very difficult to distinguish but it provides a good opportunity to test (or learn) your warbler song! Cuckoo is still calling regularly.

Other bird news includes tree sparrows regular in ones & twos on the feeders (Church Walk), counts of 20+ gadwall, 90+ tufted duck and a healthy 13 great crested grebes.

Insect species have gone into hiding with the cold wet weather, although a cinnabar moth put in an appearance this week. We may expect this species as well as butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies to come out again in earnest over the weekend – when summer is set to return in a big way from mid-day Saturday and into Sunday! Come to Lackford this weekend, there’s a lot going on.

Updated Friday 3rd June
 

 

Damselflies & Dragonflies burst onto the scene!

Possibly the main event this week has been the increase in numbers and species of damsel & dragonflies, with large red, common blue, azure, blue-tailed, banded demoiselle, and red eyed damselflies and four spot chaser dragonfly all adding a real touch of summer. (mainly along the summer walk and towards Bess’s hide).

Butterflies also in evidence include, orange tip and green veined white.

Warbler song has been diminishing recently with birds on the nest but, with some species possibly moving into the early stages of a second brood, singing could be picking up again. Sedge warbler, reed warbler, blackcap, chiff-chaff and willow warbler are all in song although our nightingales seem to have gone very quiet! Garden warbler has been seen carrying grubs and alarm calling with less full song to be heard. Cuckoo is still being seen and heard.
There are very few waders around with redshank putting in a fly past over Hawker Pool (Friday afternoon) and a common sandpiper gracing The Slough.

Kingfisher is regular around the nesting bank at Hawker Pool as area pair of great crested grebe, seen carrying nesting material to the nest on one of the islands.

Hobby may have increased to 3 birds (mainly over the Sailing Lake and The Slough) and there are up to 3 male red crested pochards in the area of Fuller’s Mill.

Tree sparrows have been seen more often of late on the feeders along Church Walk and a stoat has been fairly regular around the visitor centre.

Updated Friday 27th May

 

 

Spotted flycatcher makes an appearance

This week, a spotted flycatcher has taken to feeding over the centre pool.  It is often perched in the willows to the left of the pool and can be seen flying out to catch its lunch.

Other news this week, is that we think the kingfishers may now feeding young in the artificial bank on hawker pool.

Orange-tip butterflies are still flying around and many warblers are still singing including the nightingale.  Today the nightingale was singing near the Double Decker hide.  

Lots more damselflies too and the odd the dragonfly starting to make appearances.

Otherwise, sighting are much the same as the last update below.

Updated Friday 20th May.

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