A flurry of recent visits to Surlingham have come about I believe due to the realisation that a return to work looms. An Autumnal twist has been noted on the reserve: Mixed tit flocks roving far and wide through the scrub, and 4 Snipe were feeding at the rear of the lagoon on the 31st oAugust. On the 1st of September, a flock of c.50 Lapwing were at Wood's End, and a Chinese Water Deer was feeding at the edge of the lagoon. These mammals do seem to be more visible at this time of year. 3 Cormorants were on the river, returning for the winter. Other bits and bobs included a coming together involving a Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk (no harm done) and a Heron carrying away a Grass Snake.
On the 2nd of September, I was a busy birder. I began at the patch, arriving on site at 5.30am. I was keen to see what wildfowl used the lagoon overnight. As I walked towards my target, at least 2 Bullfinch called persistantly, but I was unable to pick them out in the half-light. A Tawny Owl called, Cettis Warblers sang and the Geese began to wake up; it was a noisy start to the day! On the lagoon, I smashed my record count of Mallard on site- 106 were counted. 44 Egyptian Geese, 7 Canadian Geese, 2 Greylag Geese and smaller numbers of Teal and Gadwall were the other birds that had presumably roosted on the lagoon. I watched most of them leave as the light broke through the misty gloom. The real highlight was a Kingfisher, which flew right past me as I sat in the bus shelter hide.
In front of the 'proper' hide, the reeds have been cut and burned. 2 Moorhen foraged here, and this looks like a good spot for Water Rail and Snipe, particularly as the months pass into Winter.
After cracking a few last minute chores at home, I picked up James and set off for Strumpshaw. The reserve was quiet save for a Hobby perched nicely on a dead tree, but we had really come to search for the Reported Willow Emerald Damselfies. I am still a novice in this area, but despite employing the expert help of James, we were unsuccessful. We did however see Common Blue, Brown Hawker, Common Hawker, Ruddy and Common Darter and a couple of male Brimstone Butterflies.
We then popped to Cantley, meeting up with Ricky and bumping into fellow blogger David Norgate. We had crippling views of the Dunlin flock feeding within yards of us. A quick scan through revealed at least 10 Little Stint, 4 Curlew Sandpiper and a few Ringos. We hunted for the Pectoral Sandpiper in amongst the mudflats and endless supply of Ruff, but this bird was to prove too elusive. We did however manage the usual Green and Common Sandpipers, and picked up a smart Wood Sandpiper. Again, fantastic variety on offer and having visited a few times over the summer, I feel like I am really beginning to get to grips with Wader behaviour at a site like this.