Despite a difficult May for many across the county, the month has been marvellous for wildlife here at Carlton Marshes. On one of my first days back to the reserve I headed out to complete a bird survey on Share Marsh, first onto the fen in front of the new tower hide. I was delighted by views of barn owl flying back and forth to their box with prey, it seems the chicks have recently hatched as I'm told these frantic feeding flights only just started. The new tower hide will provide spectacular views of barn owl for visitors when it opens. Heading to the other new hide, the lookout, along one of the newly-surfaced footpaths, I was overwhelmed by the sounds of warblers. Sedge, reed, willow and grasshopper warbler singing from all sides. From the lookout hide I watched house martins and swallows drinking from the newly created scrapes. This hide has been designed with children in mind, who will be able sit behind floor to ceiling glass to view house martins collecting mud to build their homes.
The habitat creation on Peto's Marsh has also proved a huge success, with many species breeding on the reserve for the first in this diverse habitat of deep and shallow pools of water, dykes and bare mud. Shelduck, little ringed plover and common tern are some of the new arrivals to the reserve. Common tern can now be seen hunting along the river and the deeper dykes throughout the reserve, then heading back to their nests out on Peto's Marsh. Waders are doing particularly well with about 24 pairs of avocet, 20 pairs of lapwing and 15 pairs of redshank nesting. The avocet are unmissable as they attack any potential predators that come near their precious chicks. A great place to spot avocet chicks is from the new hide now accessible on Peto's Marsh near the river Waveney ferry crossing, where a pair of avocet have successfully reared their chicks to near fledging. Peto's Marsh has been transformed into a wildlife paradise, drawing in an array of unusual birdlife as well. Recent visitors include a spoonbill which seems to be sticking around, glossy ibis and white-winged black terns.