A blackcap on October 3rd provided what may well be the last link with summer, memories of which are now being pushed out by the first winter snipe on the 12th, and the first little grebe on the river on 24th. 

The parakeet squawks out his presence on nearly every morning visit, but is still without a companion, and a family of four swans (one adult and three fawn juveniles) has returned after an absence of four months. A pheasant was seen on the embankment, the first recorded since June. Even more welcome was the return of a grey wagtail, which hadn’t seen on the river since March. 

Photo courtesy of Dave Smith

Three stonechats were spotted in the Tonford Field on October 3rd, having been limited to just two isolated records of single birds last winter. The record was doubly interesting because these colourful little birds are almost invariably seen in pairs, but these two males and one female stayed together, although there did appear to be some tension between the males. Two weeks the same group was seen flitting around in the boardwalk field, at the other end of the Marshes, and commuting between the two sides of the river. Hopefully this means we’ll have at least one pair with us for the rest of the winter. The bird in the photo is a male in breeding plumage, whereas at this time of year they are in slightly more muted, though still colourful, winter apparel.

An occasional buzzard is seen over the Marshes, but on the 3rd, there was not one but two, which landed in a tree on the embankment.