Monday, 11 June 2018

Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th June

Singing Sedgie (c) JR

Both days this weekend started grey and cool but by midday the cloud had burned back to sunshine and blue skies. When the sun finally came out the moor looked even more lush and verdant than it had last weekend. The Cow Parsleys, Pignuts and Hogweeds along the bridleway and paths are producing their multi branched bracts of flowers.

Pink and white roses spangle the hedgerows and out across Greenaways there are drifts of creamy white Meadow-rue rising above the grasses and sedges. The latter flowering prior to setting seed… hay-fever sufferers such as myself, can vouch for just how much pollen they are producing!
Bittern over Meadow Rue (c) Bark

There was a good deal of Bittern activity this weekend and it looks very much as if feeding flights are getting under way, but we have not yet established firm details about how many females we are seeing and where they are heading to. I can remember when seeing a Bittern on Otmoor was a red-letter day and now it’s become something that we take almost for granted. It was brilliant to hear and see the reaction of a visiting birder on Sunday who despite having seen most members of the heron family had never seen a Bittern before. Then, just like waiting for a bus, two came along almost at once! It reminded me just how far the reserve has come and how we used to think that breeding bitterns were just a pipe-dream.
Feeding Flight ?(c) Bark

Out on the northern lagoon the Tern Raft is once again proving to be productive and on Sunday morning we could see at least five fluffy chicks huddled together and then calling and begging when any adult with food appeared. Seven other adults looked to be still sitting on eggs, so the population is almost certain to grow further.
Tern Chick (c) Luke O'Byrne

This weekend may well prove to be the last hurrah for the Cuckoos courtship and mating activities. The males will soon be off, and the females will not be far behind them leaving the next generation secreted in the nests of the Reed Warblers. Once again there was a good deal of activity with males chasing females including the hepatic bird and a lot of cuckooing and bubbling calls. On Sunday a regular observer had six birds flying in front of him and another calling from behind him. We will now watch for females sitting up high in bushes and on fence posts searching for Reed Warbler nests and waiting for the perfect moment to slip in and deposit their egg.
Cuckoo (c) JR
In another three or four weeks we will see how successful they have been, when we find harassed looking warblers feeding their enormous foundlings.
Reluctant Host Reed Warbler (c) JR
Marsh Harriers too have been very active over the whole moor and from time to time a male will arrive with prey and transfer it to one of the females in an adroit aerial food-pass.
We have reached the time when some birds are starting off their second broods and so the pattern of singing and calling males has changed again. The Lesser Whitethroats that were so loud and noticeable last week are quiet and the Grasshopper Warblers in the car park field and July’s Meadow have started to reel again. Male Reed buntings are singing and vying with each other for territory. It was very noticeable by the first screen as two males chased and chivvied each other around the bushes and tussocks on the bund.
Male Reed Warbler at the first screen (c) Bark

A Great White Egret is being seen from time to time and at least five Little Egrets are using the pools and scrapes on Greenaways and Big Otmoor.
Greenaways Little egret (c) Bark
A Cattle Egret was reported last week on R.B.A. alongside Little Egrets on Greenaways, we have not been able to verify or corroborate this record. There was certainly no sign of a Cattle Egret this weekend.
Black Hairstreak (c) Jackie Newcombe

 On Saturday morning an Otmoor regular found a Black Hairstreak butterfly on the track in the car park field. It was a cold start to the day and it seemed semi-comatose, she was able to get it on her finger and put it onto a blackthorn where it could start to warm up and get going. They are a very beautiful little butterfly and they will be on the wing for the next few weeks before the Brown Hairstreaks begin to appear in mid-July.

Darter sp (c) Bark and Black tailed Skimmer (c) Stoneshank
More Dragonfly species are emerging in adult form and we noticed several Darters and Skimmers on Sunday.
Blood Vein Moth (c) Stoneshank
The year-list has stuck again at one hundred and thirty-nine species. Perhaps we van hope to hear quail calling in the next few weeks they have already been heard in other parts of the county and are almost annual on the moor. There will be little chance of seeing them as the grass is now so very long.

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