Wednesday, 31 July 2013

End of July Weekend

Juvenile Common Tern (c) T.S.

Juvenile Robin


One of many juv. Chaffinches

Acrobatic juv. Blue Tit

Sedge Warbler all above pics (c) Bark

Despite dire warnings of torrential downpours, both mornings were warm and mostly sunny. In the sunshine there was plenty to see especially invertebrate life.
On the bird front there are now quite extensive mixed flocks feeding in the hedgerows and on the ground. It is interesting to see that the insectivorous species group together and the buntings and finches likewise.
Clearly it is to do with food sources, diets and preferences. There were very large numbers of immature Chaffinches mixed in with fewer Linnets and Reed Buntings. Bullfinches could also be found in Moorleys (the proper name for the car park field) but tended to keep themselves to themselves. The path through Moorleys is now open again and offers a pleasant alternative to the track alongside the Closes.
The Common Tern chick is now flying, but not yet hunting for itself. There are still three adult birds present and all three took part in the raising of the chick. Might the third bird be a previous years offspring? I don't know if this is a regular strategy for Common Terns. The tern raft took much time and trouble from the reserve staff to build and to site, it is very gratifying to see that their efforts have been so worthwhile.
The Marsh Harrier continues to haunt the northern edge of Greenaways and the MOD land, it seldom seems to venture over the reedbed, at least not when I am there.
Several waders were around including Green Sandpipers and on Sunday morning four Black-tailed Godwits, that flew over and landed somewhere out on Greenaways. Out from the first screen the azolla weed was much clearer than last weekend and there were larger numbers of eclipse ducks to be seen out on the water. They included Pochard, Shoveller, Gadwall, Teal and a preponderance of Mallard. The Bearded Tits were heard pinging out in the reedbed and we had a brief glimpse of two birds in flight over the reeds on Saturday morning.
The highlight of the weekend out by the first screen was the success of the “reptile city”. There were at least eight Common Lizards to be seen, basking on the tussocks of dry grass and the logs. Some of them were very small and dark others clearly much larger, but probably still not fully adult. Congratulations to Joe Harris the warden for constructing such an effective piece of habitat.
On Saturday morning we walked up around the edge of Ashgrave on the public footpath between Ashgrave and the wood. At times there were clouds of butterflies coming up from the grass and from the bramble flowers. It was possible to imagine what the countryside in summer might have been like in times before intensive agriculture and heavy pesticide use. They were mostly Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Gatekeepers, but amongst them were also Marbled Whites, Green-veined Whites, Brimstones, Skippers and the odd Peacock. There were also at least five Silver-washed Fritillaries that had ventured out of the woodland to nectar on the brambles along the path. The warm settled weather seems to have benefitted Butterflies after the last two cold and wet summers, it remains to be seen if the Brown Hairstreaks will stage similar resurgence, they should be on the wing in a few weeks time.

Reptile, Amphibian and Invertebrate Supplement

Common Lizards

Great Crested Newt

Essex Skipper ?


Emperor Dragonfly

Silver washed Fritillary on Ashgrave

Brimstone (c) all above pics Bark


  1. Hi Peter, your newt is a Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). A Great Crested Newt is all dark above with white warts/dots on the sides of the head and flanks. They also have orange and black striped toes and either an orange stripe/base to the tail (f) or a white stripe through the tail (m). They are also a lot bigger than our other newts (up to 18 cm), although size is not always easy to judge especially with juveniles, but even juvenile GCN appear 'chunkier' than adult smooth or palmate newts. I hope that helps, GCN are on Otmoor so keep looking! Gareth

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.