Monday, 1 September 2014

Saturday and Sunday 30th and 31st August

Spot Fly (c) Bark
There was a welcome return to summer weather this weekend, at the end of what has been a rather chilly and unseasonal month.
There were fewer waders present with just a single Greenshank and a Green Sand being reported on Sunday and of course the regular Snipe and Lapwings at the first screen. 
Greenshank Greenaways (c) John Reynolds
I failed to see either of the Marsh Harriers that have been regular over the last two months and have not heard of any sightings of them. It may well be that they have moved on. Another Osprey was reported on Sunday drifting over but not staying to fish. Hobbies were reported on both days with up to four present on Saturday.
Most of the interest this weekend was focussed on passerines in the hedgerows and out on the field margins. Whinchats are present in good numbers and on Saturday there were ten up by the farm at Noke there were also four out at the Pill and a couple on the edges of Big Otmoor. They are always animate and busy, hawking insects from fence-lines and perching high on rushes and docks. 
Whinchat Big Otmoor (c) Bark
There were six Spotted Flycatchers out in Saunders field on Saturday, they may well have been there still on Sunday but the red flag was flying and so there was no access. They have become very obliging and will allow a fairly close approach. They are very delicately and softly marked, close scope views really allowing one to appreciate their beauty.
Spot Fly (c) Peter West
It has been a good year for Redstart passage and again they were cropping up along the hedges and especially in Long Meadow where there were at least six on Sunday. Terry and I found another half way along the bridle way. It gave itself away by that distinctive tail of red-gold as it flew across in front of us. I can't imagine a time when I would not be excited by that flash of colour.
Fireflirt along bridleway (c) Tezzer
While looking for Redstarts in Long Meadow I had my best birding experience of the whole weekend. There was a large mixed party of tits and warblers moving around the isolated bushes and the hedgerows. When we stopped to look carefully there were at least ten pristine Lesser Whitethroats, slightly fewer Common Whitethroats, a few male and female Blackcaps and a large number of Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs. This mixture of warblers had coalesced around a party of Long Tailed Tits, Great and Blue Tits. There was even a Marsh Tit amongst them as a bonus. 
Chiffy (c) John Reynolds

Marsh Tit (c) John Reynolds

Another chiffy ? (c) Bark
The birds were feeding partially on blackberries and also on the abundant insects that the ripe fruit was attracting. As well as feeding there was some very busy interaction going on between birds as they chased each other and occasionally intimidated a bird of another species, if it was feeding where they wished to be. It was great standing there with so much going on and with so much to look at. Sometimes the best birding happens when you stay still and let things come to you rather than chasing around after them.
Holy Cow? (c) Badger

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