|Great White Egret in the mist (c) Dan Miller|
We have had a couple of warm weeks, an Indian summer perhaps, but the week ahead looks as though it will get cooler and wetter.
|Autumn coming on (c) Bark|
There has been more to see out at the screens. At the southern lagoon there are plenty of ducks just beginning to come out of eclipse plumage. Amongst the ducks there are two Pintail and we assume that they are the young birds that hatched and fledged on the moor this summer.
|Pintail (c) Bark|
Two Wigeon have been regular at the far end of the water and on Saturday this week we saw a very “scaupy” looking bird that we reluctantly agreed was probably a female Tufted Duck.
|record shot of "Scaupy" Tufty|
Mandarin Ducks are still being seen here from time to time and they favour the area around and under the willow growing in the middle of the lagoon. There are slowly increasing numbers of Shovellers and Gadwall the drakes of the latter species already in smart fresh grey plumage. We have noticed over the last several weeks that at about ten-past eight in the morning there is a major influx of ducks flying in from the south east. They are obviously being flushed en masse from a pond or lake, perhaps even from a water feature on a golf course, it would be interesting to know from where. As well as the regular wildfowl there was a Great White Egret stalking through the shallows early on Monday morning appearing and disappearing in the mist.
|Dawn at the first screen (c) Dan and Tricia Miller|
At the northern lagoon there is now extensive mud and well over fifty Snipe can be found around the margins. They can take some finding as they match the stubble of the last reed-cut where their cryptic plumage hides them perfectly. Just occasionally they will feed out in the middle of the water where it is especially shallow.
|Cryptic Snipe (c) Bark|
A careful examination of the margins on the northern edge often reveals a Water Rail picking its way along the water’s edge before scuttling back into the reeds at the slightest hint of danger. Last week there were two Egyptian Geese on the mud-bank and they are the first to be recorded for over two years on the reserve.
|Still some Reed Warblers about (c) Bark|
I have been surprised by their absence as their numbers seem to have been steadily increasing throughout the county. Kingfishers are being seen regularly at both lagoons and along the ditches beside the bridleway. The work carried out last week to open up and clear out parts of the main ditch will create much better areas for the fish to use and also for the Kingfishers to hunt in.
|Ubiquitous Red Kites (c) Bark|
There were two Marsh Harriers hunting over the reedbeds and along the northern edge of Greenaway’s they appear to be male and female, the male is the moulting individual from several weeks ago and has now grown more primaries, the other is a female/juvenile type. There are still several Hobbies being seen.
|Clouds of insects (c) Paul Wyeth|
As the cold weather sets in and puts an end to the abundance of dragonflies and as the last of the hirundines depart, so the Hobbies too will head for warmer climes. Merlin will soon arrive and there is usually a period of a couple of weeks when they overlap on the moor.
|Kestrels (c) Bark|
Kestrels are very much in evidence over all the fields and appear to be successfully pursuing small mammals. Reports in the press suggest that Hen Harriers have had one of their most successful breeding years in England for a very long time.
|Female/juvenile Marsh Harrier (c) Bark|
As we would normally expect to see one or two of these exceptional raptors over wintering with us, perhaps this year we might see more? It is also getting towards the time when Short Eared Owls start to show up on and around the moor and we will be looking out for them from now onwards.
|Take off at the second screen (c) Bark|
Walking along the footpath to the south of the closes it is possible to hear and see the large mixed flocks of finches and Linnets that are beginning to exploit the specially sown wild bird seed crop. As the winter progresses, we will start to feed them beside the hide as we did last year so successfully.
|Teazels linnets and Goldfinches (c) Bark|
Up at July’s Meadow on Saturday we were pleased to find at least ten Clouded Yellow Butterflies. They were feeding on the Ragwort and flying rapidly and restlessly in the stiff breeze.
|Clouded yellow July's Meadow (c) Bark|
Watching them in flight with binoculars it was possible to see the contrasting black markings on the inside of their wings that are hidden when they are settled and their wings are closed.
|Stonechat (c) Paul Wyeth and Whinchat (c) Bark|
There was also a Stonechat on the fence beside the path to July’s and both Stonechat and Whinchat up near the farm at Noke.
|Long tailed Tit (c) Bark|