Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th July

Bittern over reedbed (c) Bark
Another weekend full of interest and variety. Both days warm and sultry and on Saturday quite rainy. Last week a Bittern was seen most days flying to and fro across the southern reedbed. On Saturday morning I was fortunate enough to get really good views of it first from the screen and later from the bridle way. It flew up from the reeds in response to a flyby from a Marsh Harrier and appeared to pursue it briefly out across Greenaways before returning to the reeds. This was interesting enough but on Sunday morning two Bitterns flew up from the reedbed and had a leisurely fly round over the reeds before settling in the south eastern section. We have speculated that they might be juvenile siblings as Bitterns tend to be loners rather than social birds.
The aforementioned Marsh Harrier is one of two birds that are being seen regularly, one is a very tatty sub-adult male the other a female with much more complete plumage.
Green Sand on Greenaways (c) Bark
 Wader passage is just beginning to get going and small numbers of Green Sandpipers are being seen regularly. Greenshanks are also present and although not always visible can be picked up on call. On Sunday we saw our first Common Sandpiper for about eighteen months. It was seen on the Tern Raft and then later on the southern reedbed. I am sure they occur regularly but with so much habitat they can be tricky to find.
Juvenile Reed Warbler (c) Bark

Juvenile Garden warbler? (c) Bark
There are flocks of juvenile birds moving around the moor in large mixed feeding parties. Standing still in one place and watching them move through the hedgerow, picking up different species and identifying them, is one of the pleasures of this time of year. In fact whilst trapped in the first screen on Saturday morning by a sharp shower I appreciated the virtue of sitting quietly and watching things going on around me. It was then that I saw the Bittern for the first time this weekend, the Great Crested Grebes were displaying and dragging reeds across to where the must be nesting again, two juvenile Water Rails were on the muddy bank and a slightly downy reed Warbler foraged in front of me. Every so often the Common Terns would come very close hunting in the shallows and small parties of snipe would flicker fast and low over the water before disappearing into the edges of the reeds.
Displaying Great Crested Grebe (c) John Reynolds
Feeding Common Tern (c) John Reynolds
On Sunday morning we found three Redstarts in Long Meadow a male, a female and a juvenile. We looked very hard for Spotted Flycatchers which we know have been seen up the hill in Beckley, but not yet this year right down on the moor. There were lots of warblers feeding in the bushes including a couple of very smart Lesser Whitethroats and a few Blackcaps.
The Roman Road continues to be good for Dragonflies and Butterflies and it will not be long now before the Brown Hairstreaks are on the wing alongside their purple cousins. The tall spindly ash trees towards the end of the ride are a favourite location. I finally caught up with a Silver Washed Fritillary on Friday out in the Malt Pit area. A real russet beauty but sadly I failed to get a good picture.
Common Lizard basking in the rain (c) Bark

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