Monday, 10 November 2014

Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th November

Underrated Starling (c) Mark Chivers
It was a weekend of huge contrasts with Saturday starting off fairly well and going rapidly and steeply downhill with strong winds and heavy rain. Whereas on Sunday a still misty morning gave way to warm sunshine and light breezes. Sunday morning although not particularly “birdy” was beautiful. This was especially so at the reedbed, where the shifting mist allowed a subtle golden light through to softly illuminate the reeds that are now turning bronze. Birds flying close to the water were perfectly mirrored in the still surface.
Bronzing reeds (c) Bark
Fieldfares and Redwings are now finally here in good numbers and the “chuckle-thrushes” are taking full advantage of the berries in the hedgerows.
Fieldfare flyover (c) John Reynolds

Fieldfare (c) Bark
There are also several flocks of starlings that do not disperse far when the roost breaks up in the morning but spend their time feeding on and around the reserve. They are a very underrated bird when considered individually, the iridescence on their feathers showing greens and blues and smart fringing.
Starling (c) Mark Chivers
They are roosting in large numbers now, although the display is very variable and can on some days not happen at all, with the flocks simply appearing and plunging straight into the reeds. There are larger than normal numbers of Pied Wagtails present, they are roosting in the reedbed too and not travelling far to feed. There were at least thirty feeding out of the field beside the path to the second screen. They were feeding in amongst the spoil from the new scrapes that have been put in and were accompanied by a number of Meadow Pipits that appeared and disappeared amid the clumps of soil perfectly camouflaged.
Pied Wagtail at 2nd screen (c) Bark
I feel sure that the presence of so many birds is responsible for the larger than normal numbers of raptors that are currently around the moor. There were two different Marsh Harriers here on Saturday and two Peregrines were seen both on the ground and in the trees to the west of the visitor trail to the second screen, their preferred lookout post. Several Kestrels can be seen often at the same time and occasionally in dispute with the ubiquitous Red Kites.
Kestrel behaving like  a Hobby (c) John Reynolds
After a rather “dead” time recently, there is now much more action in the vicinity of the hide. Last weekend the Golden Plover were bathing and loafing on the main pool and there are at least a hundred Wigeon grazing on the margins, a few Shovellers and twenty or so Teal. This weekend a Jack Snipe was seen several times directly in front of the hide on one occasion walking past a small party of Common Snipe emphasising the differences in size structure and colour. Getting some good pictures of this normally hard to see bird could prove to possible and I would like to be able to put some on the blog.
Stonechat from the hide (c) Bark
As I walked back from the Pill on Sunday morning facing the sun I became increasingly aware of the many thousands of gossamer threads that were drifting across the fields, each with a spiderling attached. The sunshine and the light breezes were obviously the trigger for this mass migration. The sunlight made them shine silver against the green of the field, the finest of lines drifting past like scratches on paint, impossible to photograph or draw but nonetheless a lovely thing to see.
Hedgerow jewels (c) Bark

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