During late summer and early autumn many migrant birds pass through the reservoirs so it is an exciting time to come and visit. Black terns were seen on 15/8 at Startops End Reservoir and there are still common terns present. If the water levels drop at the reservoirs this can attract waders down to feed on the exposed mud and many different species can then be seen. Search the edge of the water for common sandpipers and species such as redshank and the area infront of the hide regularly attracts snipe and lapwing.
Towards the end of August a black necked grebe appeared at Wilstone. This year spotted flycatchers have bred on the reserve and have provided many visitors good views of this sadly declining species.
Swallows, martins and swifts can often be seen feeding over the water and if there is bad weather huge numbers can be seen flying low over the reservoirs as they ride out the wind and rain. Hobbies can also be seen at this time of year, especially over the trees in the centre of Wilstone or by sitting in the hide towards dusk and watching them hunt insects.
Earlier in the year (w/c 21/5 ) a savi's warbler was singing from the reedbed at Wilstone. It was quite hard to hear amongst the reed and sedge warblers but was a very exciting find on the reserve.
Winter Management update - Winter 11/12
This year we carried out lots of scrub removal from the reedbeds at both Wilstone and Marsworth Reservoirs. This will benefit the wetland birds as eventualy the scrub would lead to the reedbeds drying up. Two ponds were also dug at the edge of each reedbed, providing foraging areas for birds but also benefitting amphibians and invertebrates such as damselflies and dragonflies.
Spring brings passage and summer migrants. Breeding duck include Gadwall and Shoveler, and the reserve has one of the county's three regular heronries. Flowering plants include celery-leaved and goldilocks buttercups.
The summer moult flocks of Tufted Duck and Pochard are of national importance.
Autumn passage again brings terns, gulls and other vagrants.
In winter waterbirds include nationally important levels of Shoveler as well as Teal and Wigeon. The nightly gull roost can be in excess of 20,000 birds, and corn buntings roost in the reedbed.