Thursday, 9 June 2016

End of May and into June

Chipping Snipe (c) JR
We have reached that time in the year when all the arrivers have arrived and the leavers have left. Everything is getting on with reproducing and raising young. The foliage is lush and dense, which makes birds harder to pick out although their voices still betray their presence.
Sedgie (c) JR
After a long cold spell by Sunday it had slowly started to warm up after what has felt like a long cool and grey time. Despite the seasons slowing down there has still been lots to see and some fascinating behaviours to observe.
There was a wonderful moment last weekend when as we stood on the bridleway. We could hear male and female Cuckoos calling from the far side of the hedge, two purring Turtle Doves and overhead three Snipe were drumming. All can often be heard separately but seldom like this as an early summer chorus.
Cuckoo (c) JR
Cuckoo (c) Derek Lane
Warblers can be seen now with beaks full of insects and caterpillars gleaned from the trees and hedges and destined for their hungry nestlings.
It seems as if it’s been a good year for cuckoos. We may not entirely assume that until we see good numbers of young birds being fed by their foster parents in a few weeks’ time. However, there are at least four adult birds present and they are making their presence obvious with their noisy calling and fast low courtship flights.
A Bittern was seen on Saturday morning flying from one part of the reedbed to another. I am sure that they are resident all year round but have yet to breed. As the population on the Somerset levels increases we will be well placed to take up the surplus juveniles.
Curlwe (c) JR
Curlews are calling frequently and there were at least nine birds out on the MOD land last week. I saw my first fledged young lapwing last Sunday and it will be interesting to see just how well they do this year.
Red Kite and snack (c) Derek Lane
Marsh Harriers are ever present and are hunting a lot over Greenaways, Red Kites are continually being mobbed by Lapwings in an effort to distract them from the chicks on the ground, although this is not always an effective strategy.
As the weather warms up more dragonflies and damselflies will hatch and the summer butterflies will be on the wing. Black Hairstreak along the Roman Road should be the next rarer species to emerge.
Four spotted Chaser (c) Derek Lane
The flower rich meadows will come into bloom, July’s Meadow already shows patches of yellow and pink from Buttercups and Campion and there are many more plants about to flower. Snakes and Lizards are both showing well, both by the screen and along the path in the car Park Field in the gaps in the hedges where trees have been pollarded.

Mr and Mrs Linnet (c) JR
Perhaps now that it  is warmer we may hear the first Quail of the year on Otmoor telling us to “Wet my lips” I’ll certainly be listening out.
Little Egret (c) Derek Lane

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