HenHarrier over Ashgrave (c) Jonathan Mercer
Only a small flock of Lapwings are present on Ashgrave
One of three Treecreepers seen on Sunday
Kingfisher appeared frequently at both screens.
This weekend on the moor for the first time since last February it felt like winter. Colours were muted and we had vast washed skies with dramatic water-colour clouds. On the bird front however it was much less dramatic, apart of course from the regular appearances of Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls. The drought is having a massive effect on wildfowl numbers as well as on Lapwings and Golden plovers. By this time in a normal wet winter we would expect at least two thousand Wigeon and similar numbers of Teal, this year they are only present in the low hundreds and this weekend there were fewer Wigeon present than over the last few weeks. There was only one Pintail, a bird with a damaged tail and twenty odd Shoveller. It is a very worrying situation as there will need to be a huge amount of rainfall over the next few months if there is to be enough water on the reserve for the breeding waders. It seems ironic that the conditions that have encouraged the influx of raptors has had the opposite effect on our wildfowl. We saw the Merlin this weekend but as usual the views were fleeting and irregular. Ravens were heard and seen passing over. Concentrating on small birds in the hedgerows meant that we found three Treecreepers, a few Goldcrests and one flock of over twenty-five Long-tailed Tits. A Woodcock flushed from under a bush in Long meadow and unusually we had a Crossbill fly over calling. Best news was the reappearance on Saturday morning of the two Tree Sparrows that had been seen mid-week on the feeders by the Hide. If we can encourage them to stay for the winter they might , with suitable help once again breed on the moor.