|Soon to be late Great crested grebe chick! (c) Bark|
The weather had finally broken and there had been some rain on Friday night so there was a clean freshness to the air on Saturday morning. Sunday was very wet, which kept me away from the moor, but by Monday the weather had begun to settle down once again. The showers and the heavier rain over-night has rejuvenated the vegetation and must have encouraged more insect life to emerge. A very confiding young Song thrush was foraging in the damp grass near the kissing gate and seized a bright yellow snail which it proceeded to batter out of its shell right in front of us.
|Songthrush and prey (c) JR|
Over the weekend we added our one hundred and fortieth species to the year-list, in the form of a Black necked Grebe, it was found late on Saturday afternoon and departed some time on Sunday evening……needless to say, I missed it. It was on the southern edge of the northern lagoon in and out of the reedy margins.
|Black-necked Grebe. (c) Tezzer|
Apart from the grebe all continued much as it had in the previous few weeks. The consensus among those watching the Marsh Harriers closely is that there are now four newly fledged birds around, that often spend much of their time loafing around in the bushes waiting for one of the three adults to bring in food and pass it to them. There is one adult male and two females and the youngsters respond to all three of them, often spotting them coming from a distance and flying up to collect their rations.
|Grebe family (c) JR|
The grebe family of two youngsters and two adults that were out on the water a week ago by Saturday only had one chick left, but sadly by the time I visited on Monday evening the chick had gone. The adults seemed to have a very casual approach to its welfare. They were seen trying to feed it a small Pike at least twice its size on Friday and when carrying it on their back would frequently dive, leaving it bobbing about on the surface like a cork. At such times it would have been very vulnerable to predation from both above and below.
|Tufted duck with tuftlings (c) JR|
As is to be expected at this time of year the Brown Hairstreaks along the Roman Road are attracting plenty of admirers and it does seem to be a particularly good summer for them.
|Purple Emperor (c) John Friendship-taylor|
|Brown Hairstreak (c) Bark|
A smattering of Green Sandpipers are being seen on the rapidly disappearing scrapes on Greenaways, but as yet there has been no significant wader passage on Otmoor.
|Redstart (c) Pete Roby|
Other signs of the changing seasons are happening however. More Redstarts are being spotted in their regular haunts, although they are very difficult to track down choosing to bury themselves deep in the bushes. On Sunday a Whinchat was a surprise find so early in the season. It was on a spindly willow near the Wetlands Watch, later the same morning a couple of visitors also reported an early returning Wheatear on the roof of the hide.
|Whinchat (c) Bark|
On Sunday morning we were lucky enough to see some rather strange behaviour from what was undoubtedly a juvenile Bittern. A young fledgling Marsh Harrier stooped down on a part of the reedbed at the far side of the southern lagoon. It flew off almost immediately and then slowly a long neck appeared periscope like above the reeds it twisted round and climbed up a little higher. Just like an owl it showed the ability to turn its head snake like to look over its shoulder. After four or five minutes it launched itself awkwardly into the air and took several inexpert wingbeats before crashing back into the reeds.
|Juvenile and adult Spotted flycatchers (c) Bark|
We were very pleased to find a pair of Spotted Flycatchers feeding two newly fledged young in a hedgerow in Long Meadow. The young birds are very speckled on the front and spangled on their backs and one of them still showed a little bit of yellow gape in the corner of its mouth. It is good to know that they have bred successfully so close to the reserve.
|Lesser Whitethroat. (c) Bark|
|Yellow Wagtails (c) Bark|
|Common blue, Ruddy Darter and Devils Bit Scabious (c) Bark|
Common Blue Butterflies seem very abundant this year although they have yet to reach the astonishing numbers we saw ten years ago. Rain is forecast for next weekend and judging by the enormous cracks and fissures in the surface of the bridleway and the fields it will take an awful lot of rain to bring us back to anything like normal.
|Common lizard (c) Tezzer|