|Little Egret (c) Bark|
The very high temperatures of the previous week had cooled to more normal summer weather and the moor was looking wonderful. When I arrived on Saturday morning I heard a cuckoo distantly and had one fly past me along the bridleway but by Sunday I did not hear any at all. They will be heading back to Africa even as I write, leaving their progeny to be raised by our Reed Warblers.
|Reed Warbler with food...for a cuckoo? (c) Derek Lane|
On both days this weekend, there were more individual birds singing again, presumably prior to embarking on second broods. I was serenaded by a very confiding Song Thrush near to the junction of the Car Park Field and the bridleway and once again we are hearing Willow and Grasshopper Warblers after several weeks’ silence.
|Singing Song Thrush (c) Bark|
At the reedbed there were regular but erratic Bittern movements seen. I have had several reports of and have also witnessed myself, Bitterns flying between the larger areas of reeds out on Greenaways. It might be that there are better feeding opportunities out there if there is now more competition within the reedbed itself.
|Sedge and Chiffchaff (c) JR|
On Sunday morning the Hen Harrier was seen again, flying across the northern lagoon and out towards the MOD land. It was noticed to be acquiring black tips to its wings and had much paler underwing feathers starting to appear. These factors suggest, that as we suspected, this is a sub adult male now beginning a moult into more adult plumage. The Marsh Harriers were also very much in evidence and on Monday this week four birds were reported in the air at the same time. If there are newly fledged young they will sit about in the stunted willows for several weeks and wait for the parent birds to bring them food. At this time they are very easily identified being a fairly uniform chocolate colour and having a very clear custard coloured head.
|Digiscoped Tern chicks (c) Stoneshank|
Out at the second screen on Sunday morning we watched the Common Terns chasing away potential predators from the area around and above the raft. They harassed several Red Kites, a Common Buzzard, a Marsh Harrier, a Hobby and a Lesser Black backed Gull. It was possible to pick out at least six dumpy chicks tottering about and begging the adults for food. There was a family party of Tufted Ducks in front of the screen and we were intrigued as to how the small fluffy ducklings managed to drive themselves down into the water when they were clearly so buoyant. When they surfaced from a dive they almost popped out of the water they surfaced so quickly.
|Tufted Duck family (c) JR|
The invertebrate life down on the moor drew our attention this weekend. We saw at least ten different species of butterfly between the first and second screens alone. The hedge beside the path has great swathes of brambles and this year they are all flowering profusely.
|Nectaring Butterflies (c) Bark|
|Darter and ladybird (c) Derek Lane|
|Purple Hairstreak (c) Bark|
On Sunday morning I met an RSPB members group that was visiting from Dursley in Gloucestershire. They especially wanted to see Turtle doves and within ten minutes or so of them asking me about their whereabouts one of the regular males flew in, sat up in the oak and purred. The visitors told me that the species had gone extinct as a breeder in Gloucestershire five years ago, when the last regular colony disappeared. We hope that this will not be the fate of our birds and would really appreciate any records and photographs of juvenile birds seen down on the reserve. They are easily distinguished from the adults having no neck markings and being much duller. We too will be looking out for them and if we spot them I will be very happy to report it here.
|Turtle Dove arriving on time for the visitors ! (c) Bark|