|Little Grebe at the first screen (c) Bark|
Rather a damp, overcast and grey weekend as we head towards midsummers day later this week. There was, as normal, lots to see on the moor although nothing especially unusual or unexpected. The amazing productivity of the site was noticeable, not just the large numbers of juvenile birds being seen but also the burgeoning swathes of wildflowers and when the sun finally did come out, the rich and varied invertebrate life.
|Large Skipper butterfly and Yellow Shell moth (c) Bark|
I was wrong about last week being the final hurrah for the cuckoos. There were still three birds present on Saturday and Sunday. They were not so vociferous as last weekend but there were still two males pursuing a female out over Greenaways. The BTO reported last week that their radio tagged birds had already made it down into southern Europe. Perhaps late nesting by our Reed Warblers has delayed the departure of our birds. The hepatic female was one of the three and we hope that she returns next year.
|Cuckoos (c) Bark|
At the second screen we counted nearly thirty juvenile Shovellers all at different stages of development from small ducklings up to just shy of adult size. There was one creche of sixteen well grown youngsters with three adults in attendance.
|Some of the Shoveller creche (c) Bark|
|Two Cygnets (c) Bark|
|Little Grebe (c) Bark|
The highlight at the first screen this weekend was the presence of three Garganey on Saturday. A still smart male with a female and another very tatty individual that looked as though it was going into eclipse. The scruffy bird was still present on Sunday but there was no sign of the other pair.
|Two smarter Garganey and below the scruffier one. (c) Bark|
We are confident that we are watching two different Marsh Harrier pairs. Two different males, one in less obvious adult male plumage, are bringing food to two different females that come up for the food passes from two very different locations. One of the males appears to spend more time hunting out over Greenaways, the Flood and the MOD fields. The other favours Big Otmoor and Ashgrave it may just be preference or perhaps avoiding competition. There are frequent food passes, a testament to hunting skills and the productivity of the site.
|Food Pass (c) Bark|
Whenever the sun was out this weekend it was possible to spot Common Lizards beside the first screen. Two that I saw were quite large and looked to have swollen bellies, suggesting that they were females and shortly about to give birth.
|Common Lizard (c) Bark|
|Tiny Toadlet (c) Bark|
Once we get past the longest day then we will start to look for the first returning waders that always appear then. They are probably failed breeders, but their appearance marks another key point in the calendar.
|Bee Fly (Volucella Pellucens) and Painted Lady (c) Stoneshank Hogweed (c) Bark|