Monday, 4 August 2014

Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd August

Reed Warbler (c) John Reynolds
Young Little Grebes (c) John Reynolds
Roe Doe from the first screen (c) John Reynolds
Contrasting weather over the weekend with Saturday showery and cloudy whilst Sunday was warm and sunny though breezy. Both days had their highlights but Sunday was more eventful and with the finer weather there were more butterflies to be seen.
Waders are now regular across the reserve with both Greenshanks and Green Sands being seen on both days. First thing in the morning they can be seen feeding on the Greenaways scrapes but flush easily as the morning traffic along the bridleway builds up. 

Snipe from first screen (c) John Reynolds
The place to be is out at the first screen where the muddy margins and shallow lagoons are providing great feeding and loafing opportunities for Snipe, eclipse ducks and other waterfowl. 
Lapwing (c) John Reynolds
A post breeding flock of Lapwings are present and amongst them are the last fledged juveniles from this year, noticeable by their yellow faces, tiny crests and fringed plumage. 
It is also very popular with Little Egrets and Grey Herons the latter never very happy to be feeding close to each other and are frequently involved in minor scuffles and disputes. With patience it is possible to get really good views of Water Rails here. Both adult and juveniles can be seen as they venture out onto the mud or move from one area of cover to another. The habitat looks superb for Spotted Crake and as they have been seen here in the past and at this time of year it is worth looking carefully at the edges of the reeds. It is always good to be optimistic.
Biting off more than it can chew (c) John Reynolds
A family of Little Grebes is present and the young birds, still sporting some of their bulls-eye plumage, are learning to catch fish and sometimes biting off more than they can chew.
A few Yellow Wagtails are being both seen and heard now. They can frequently be spotted feeding around the feet of the grazing cattle or coming in to roost in the reedbed in the evening. The number of Starlings using the reedbed to roost in is already going up and on Sunday evening there was an estimate of three thousand coming in at dusk.
Marsh Harrier (c) John Reynolds
Both of the regular Marsh Harriers have been seen frequently, on Saturday morning the juvenile male was watched being harried and mobbed across Greenaways by a pair of Ravens. A Peregrine was seen and on Sunday at least five Hobbys were reported.

Bittern Monday morning. Both pics(c) John Reynolds
Although I am not aware of any Bitterns being seen over the weekend as I write this on Monday morning I have just been told that there has been a lot of aerial activity of one and possibly two Bitterns over the southern reedbed in the last half hour. Not just the normal rapid flit from one side to the other but a much slower and leisurely fly around.
Reedy (c) Bark
Record shot of juv Cuckoo (c) Bark
One of the highlights of my weekend was finding a juvenile Cuckoo still being fed by its surrogate parents in the hedge adjoining the bridle way. Sadly it was almost impossible to see what the parent birds were as the Cuckoo made itself very difficult to see shortly after we found it. This is the third young Cuckoo that I have heard about this year and it might suggest that they have had a good season.
Cryptic Speckled Wood (c) Bark

Brown Argus (c) Bark

Small Copper (c) Bark

Common Blue (c) Bark
Butterflies were very much in evidence on Sunday morning with Brown Argus, Common Blue and Small Copper all showing beautifully along the trail to the second screen where there is a profusion of brambles in flower. The gem however was a pristine female Brown Hairstreak along the Roman Road. Careful looking in these less frequented and more sheltered places will often turn up something interesting or beautiful or, as in this and other cases, both.

Brown Hairstreak (c) Bark

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