Monday, 10 August 2015

Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th August

Wood Sandpiper (c) JR
It felt like  a proper summer weekend, warm and sunny. As the summer draws on, the water level on the reed beds and their lagoons is falling steadily. Transpiration and evaporation mean that more and wider muddy margins are being exposed. These muddy areas are attracting passage waders and this weekends star bird was a Wood Sandpiper that spent a long time feeding on the reed stubbled edges in front of the first screen.
Dropping in (c) JR

It was a very fresh looking individual with crisp vermiculation on its back and a clear bright supercillium. There were two birds present one having been seen briefly on an Greenaways scrape before making off high towards the north west. The reedbed bird spent some time feeding alongside a Green Sandpiper and the differences between them were very obvious.
Green Sand (c) JR
Increasing numbers of Snipe are also taking advantage of this feeding opportunity and it is only with careful observation that they can be picked out among the dead reeds. They are so perfectly camouflaged for feeding unobtrusively in such areas. The small size of all these waders is especially obvious as they feed around and amid the groups of lethargic moulting ducks.

The lagoons themselves appear to host a very healthy population of small fish. There are at least five juvenile Great Crested Grebes and two sets of adults present, the parents appear to have no difficulty in servicing so many mouths. The persistent begging calls of the juveniles is the background sound at the first screen and occasionally provokes an exasperated response from the adult birds.
An exasperated response! (c) JR
Both Little Egrets and Grey Herons also seem to be feeding freely but it must take large numbers of small fry to sustain a large bird like a heron.

Herons and fry (c) JR
As well as significant numbers of juvenile Tits and Warblers we are beginning to see our normal influx of autumn passage migrants.
Redstart (c) Badger
Four Redstarts were seen over the weekend just off the reserve and there seems to be a  fluctuating number of Spotted Flycatchers around with a maximum count of six on Saturday and they probably come from two separate families.
Spot Fly (c) JR
I watched two juveniles feeding independently on Saturday morning needing no help at all in picking up their prey from around the water trough in Long meadow. A fine Wheatear was on the gate south of the Hide on Saturday and another on the fence around Big Otmoor.
Wheatear (c) Bark
There are still four Marsh Harriers present although they are seldom seen together. The juvenile birds are wandering over the whole of the moor and the parent birds are hunting beyond the reserve. The male is now well into moult and his paler male feathers are now becoming much more obvious.
Male Marsh Harrier looking very tatty (c) JR
The Harriers are taking advantage of the growing Starling roost plunging into the assembling flock. Their numbers are rising steadily although still modest by winter standards.
The Roman Road area is attracting lots of visitors who come especially to see the Brown Hairstreaks, it is very pretty along there at the moment with an abundance of hedgerow flowers in a variety of colours.

Brimstone and Brown Hairstreak (c) Bark
I hope that the reedbed margins continue to pull in passage waders and I look forward to finding more passage passerines over the next few weeks.

Reed Warbler and  Chiffy (c) Bark

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