Monday, 7 September 2015

Saturday and Sunday 5th and 6th September

Swallow from the first screen (c) JR
If autumn was hovering in the doorway last weekend this weekend it truly arrived. Saturday was grey cold, windy and rainy but Sunday was the finest kind of September day. From the top of the lane on Sunday morning the bottom of the moor was wreathed in a soft shallow silver mist, from which the tops of the trees stood out like islands in an inland sea. The whole was bathed in a cool golden light and the sky a peerless blue. 
The moor has something of a transit lounge about it at present, there are birds coming and going but not in any great numbers. The regular residents are quiet and going about their business steadily but the big influx of proper winter visitors has yet to happen.

Willow Chiffs in long meadow (c) Bark
There were mixed flocks of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs moving along the hedgerows, gleaning insects and occasionally fly-catching. It really is a clear example of feeding on the move and these warblers are most likely to have bred or been fledged further north. From the first screen on Sunday both Reed and Sedge Warblers could be seen feeding busily, low along the reed margins close to the water. They favoured the sunniest spots as presumably the insect life gets going soonest in the warmest areas after a night as chilly as the one that had just passed.
Sedgie (c) JR
On Saturday there was just one Whinchat on the wires near the farm at Noke and the Stonechats have yet to arrive. 
Snipe are still feeding and roosting among the cut reed stems. On Sunday we saw at least one adult and two juvenile Water Rails scuttling about on the muddy bank to the left of the main channel.
Scuttling  Rail (c) JR
Duck numbers are just beginning to creep up, there were four Wigeon and at least twelve Teal on the southern reedbed. In addition to the moulting Mallard there were more Shovellers and a couple of Pochard present and already moulted, freshly plumaged Gadwall. Kingfishers continued to use the dead trees as lookout points and were constantly catching small fry, they did not however show any interest in getting too close to the screen and the waiting battery of cameras!
Autumn Bounty (c) Bark
The hedgerows are now laden with fruit. Hips, haws, sloes and blackberries shine out in shades of red, purple and blue. The sloes are particularly prolific this year in some places and the subtle bloom over their dark black skins make them look as if they were touched by the early mist. All this banquet awaits now is the birds to feed on it.
Lots of Herons (c) JR

Red Backed Shrike now confirmed in July's Meadow bird number one hundred and fortysix for the year list!

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