There were some exciting avian sightings this month. Now our winter migrant birds have really started arriving. The most notable were the Great Northern Diver (the second recorded in the park) and the two Great White Egrets that have been seen regularly on Heron Meadow. 

The Great Northern Diver is a winter visitor to the UK from areas like Greenland and Iceland, but usually sticks to the coast, so it is fairly uncommon for one to venture this far inland. It was around on the rowing lake at Thorpe Meadows for a few days, so hopefully lots of people got to see it. In winter plumage they are a fairly dull looking bird, being mostly grey.

Great White Egrets are becoming more common across the UK, mainly as visitors in the winter, but there are some resident pairs too. The Great White Egret is larger than the other Egrets, approximately the same size as a Grey Heron, but completely white with a yellow beak.

Other Sightings:

  • Bullfinches have been occasionally spotted around Ham Mere - the bright pink plumage of the male is always a giveaway.
  • Wigeon
  • Pintail
  • Shoveller
  • Goosander
  • Kingfisher - the two on the inlet under Ham Bridge have been quite visible recently, and also quite vocal. Their call sounds similar to the sound a squeaky dog toy makes. Go and have a listen yourself!
  • Tufted Duck
  • Lesser Black Backed Gull
  • Snipe
  • Pheasants - 8 males were spotted together on Heron Meadow last week.
  • Common Gull – a winter visitor, there were 110 on Gunwade Lake one day last week
  • Lapwing – lots over Gunwade Lake
  • Marsh Harrier – an exciting spot over Ferry Meadows
  • Little Grebe – the higher water levels on the river is likely to be what pushed them in as the numbers on the lakes have been higher than usual
  • Great White Egret – a couple have still been around Heron Meadow and Goldie Backwater. They look like a white Heron, about the same size too
  • Little Egret – they’ve been in various places, but Ham Cut and around Ham Mere have been good places to spot them. These look like a smaller version of the Great White Egret, with a black beak.
  • Water Rail – can be heard around Ham Mere sometimes, they can sound a bit like a squealing piglet!
  • Lesser Redpoll – quite a few have been spotted in the Alder and Birch trees in the main car park

The wildlife survey volunteers had their annual catch up last week too, they've amassed an amazing 332 hours of surveying (up to the end of October), and helped to record 523 species this year! Without their efforts the recording work we do wouldn't be possible. All records are valuable, no matter how common you think the animal/plant is, so please do let us know if you spot anything while out and and around the Park!