After a grey drizzly start to the day it just got better and better! First thing was the "Mini Beasts" toddler event learning about our feathered friends. Our young explorers first stop was the Woodland hide where the redpoll, siskin and brambling were looking very smart together with the great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch. The hide is a great place to take toddlers with the guaranteed close up views of a variety of birds feeding. Then it was off to Ivy South hide where we saw a grey heron flying over the silt pond and a large number of shoveler were feeding close up to the hide. A fantastic brightly coloured duck to see. We also met some visitors on the hunt for the Great White Egret which had been seen earlier in the morning in front of the Ivy North hide, although they were not having any luck with their search. Then we quacked our way back to the centre to make some bird puppets and fat balls to take home for the garden birds.
After the excitement of the morning I didn't expect much more. But I was wrong. An excited visitor ran up to the Centre to let us know of the great grey shrike which was just down the path in the willow coppice up in the tops of the trees. I thought I was too late but after they directed me to the right part of the tree I saw it. A ball of feathers sitting on the very tip of a branch with a black band over its eyes! It looked like a proper little villain!
And that wasn't all. On the way round to lock up the hides I stumbled upon the Great White Egret fishing in the channel to the left of Ivy North hide. It had returned, and I watch it catch and gobble up a fish. So it was definitely a day of Greats!
Elsewhere on the reserve, the smew was seen in the usual place on Rockford Lake and the bittern had been seen earlier in the day outside the Ivy north hide.