Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th September

Cetti's Warbler (c) Bark
This weekend produced two days that were just about as fine, bright and sparkling as early autumn days go. The mist lifted rapidly on Saturday and just a little more reluctantly on Sunday. Colours glowed from the hedgerows and birds fed actively in the reedbeds and the bushes.

Lifting mist and Redpoll (c) Bark
There is a lot of seeding willowherb beside the path to the first screen and it was there that I found my first Redpolls of the winter. There were ten or so of them tearing into the seed heads as white down drifted off on the light breeze. There were also a group of Goldfinches in the same area but they were concentrating exclusively on the abundant thistle heads. Two Siskins flew over and another two or three were also seen on Sunday morning on bushes out to the right of the first screen. In the sunshine there were still warblers to be seen gleaning insects from the bushes, principally Chiffchaffs but it was also possible to pick out Lesser Whitethroats, a few Reed Warblers, one Sedgie and a Garden Warbler.

Gleaning warblers (c) Bark
In the Roman Road Blackcaps were seen but it is impossible to know whether they were birds returning for the winter or summer visitors that are yet to leave. Cetti’s Warblers have bounced back very strongly having been wiped out on the moor for nearly two years after two severe winters. There were two birds in bushes around and behind the first screen on Sunday and another two birds reported at the same time up towards the second screen in the reedbed. There was also another bird calling midway along the bridle way near the wooden bench. Lets hope that this winter allows them to continue to thrive.
Lapwings (c) JR and Snipe (c) Bark
Out on the Southern Lagoon the muddy area in front continues to grow, but very slowly. There were a flock of about twenty Lapwings there on both days and over the next few weeks their numbers will start to rise dramatically. Up to thirty Snipe are also around on the margins of the Lagoon, from time to time flying round and round in small flocks without any clear threat or reason. A single Dunlin was picking its way between the Snipe and the Lapwings feeding busily. While we were watching a party of eight Wigeon flew in and joined the handful that were already out at the back of the water.
There was a fine male Stonechat in July’s Meadow on Sunday morning quite a pale coloured individual, since then another three have been reported, both by Lower Farm and out at the Pill.

Corvid Sprawk interaction (c) JR
Sparrowhawks have been very noticeable both male and a large female. Perhaps they have been attracted by the increasing numbers of starlings that are roosting in the reedbed and feeding in the fields. A Barn Owl was seen on Sunday morning perched on the gate to the rifle range. The first Short Eared Owl of the winter was seen being hassled by crows on Thursday afternoon and another or indeed the same one was seen hunting over the MOD on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday morning at least three Kestrels probably a family party were hunting in the bright sunshine calling frequently and chasing each other around they came very close and looked stunning.
Kestrel (c) JR
During the next couple of weeks Fieldfares and Redwings will come in to take advantage of the abundance in the hedgerows, perhaps we will benefit from the irruption of Bearded Tits that happens about now or perhaps it will be a good winter for Bramblings. Be certain we will be out there looking.
Red Moon hand- held long exposure (c) Bark

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