Wednesday, 7 June 2017

3rd and 4th June



Singing Sedgie (c) Mark Chivers

The meteorologists say it is now officially summer, and this weekend it certainly seemed that way with warm sunshine predominant until late on Sunday afternoon. All of the hedges are splashed with pink and white from the Dog Roses and in the Roman Road and along the bridleway the elder is turning up panicles of creamy white flowers towards the sun. Beside the path to the first screen, hidden in the greenery is a spotted orchid, exotic amid the more mundane grasses. In the same area a privet is in flower, filling the air with its heavy scent that is neither totally pleasant nor totally unpleasant, bur veers between the two!
Dog Rose (c) Bark
Common Spotted Orchid (c) Tom N-L
The birdlife on the reserve is now going about the serious business of raising young and in some cases starting to set about raising second broods. There is less time for singing and more energy to be dedicated to foraging. There are already family parties of newly fledged, custard coloured Blue Tits hunting the hedgerows for food.

Custard coloured blue Tits and foraging Whitethroat (c) Bark
Out in the reedbed things are also stirring. We are seeing a lot more Bittern activity after a much quieter couple of months. It is probable that these are females beginning to make feeding flights in order to provision newly hatched chicks. We will be monitoring this process in order to get some idea of how many there are and where they might have nested.
Bittern Sunday (c) JR
The Marsh Harriers are also very active over the reedbeds. We are not completely certain but think that there is one mature male and two females with two different nests. We have observed food passes and nest materials being delivered, as well as aerial conflict with the Red Kites.

Common Tern and Sedgie (c) Bark
In the increasingly long grass out on Greenaways our pair of Common Cranes can be spotted stalking about and feeding. It looks very much as if they are undergoing their first major full moult. During the next few weeks they will be to all intents and purposes flightless as they moult and replace their main flight feathers. They should be fairly secure out there, as there is abundant cover and there will be a great deal of food as the various insect hatches take place, the grasses and sedges set seed and the grasshopper population booms. The juvenile interloper from last week seems to have moved on but could still be out lurking on the MOD land or even on Maltpit.

Cuckoos  above  (c) JR    below (c) Tom N-L 
Cuckoos are still easy to see and hear. They favour certain oak trees as preferred song posts and chase between them. The oaks behind the first screen are very popular as is the last big oak along the bridleway past the turning down to the hide. The females can sometimes be seen perched on the fence posts overlooking ditches beside the bridleway.
Anxious looking Reed Warbler (c) JR
They are waiting for their chance to dive into a Reed Warblers nest, that they have previously spotted and there lay their egg. They watch and wait for the warbler to be out feeding and then make their move.


Turtle Doves above (c) Tom N-L lower two (c) JR
The Turtle Doves are moving between several different songposts too. One of which is beyond the Roman Road as well as the familiar spots on the telegraph poles and in the oak beside the bridleway. We have also had a recent report of a purring bird over at Oddington, in a place that used to be a regular site, but which has not been used for several years. People are coming to the reserve specially to see this iconic summer visitor, on Sunday I met an RSPB members group, which had come down from Derbyshire. They were delighted to have seen the doves but also pleased and surprised to see the Cranes as well.


Male Beutiful Demoiselle (c) P Greenaway, Female and Speckled Wood (c) Bark
The first Black Hairstreaks were on the wing on Saturday morning in the Roman Road area, although in the windier conditions on Sunday we failed to re-find them. There were Beautiful Demoiselles there and on Friday a Downy Emerald Dragonfly was seen. A Banded Demoiselle was along the path out to the first screen. As can be seen from my photograph (on the blogsite only) a Red Admiral endorsed the RSPB sign about making a home for nature. I am sure ther will be more of the same in the summer weeks to come.
A home for nature! (c) Bark

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