Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Saturday Sunday and Monday 6th-8th October

Kestrel (c) Bark

There was some much-needed rain on Saturday and the morning was grey and increasingly wet. Sunday however was a perfect sunny autumn morning, starting frosty but calm, still and clear.
Things are slowly starting to change and on Sunday morning we saw our first Redwings of the season, with a small party of perhaps twenty making their way west across the reserve. Elsewhere there was not much to see that was different from the previous few weeks.

Bitterns         Flight shot(c) JR      Standing shot (c) Luke O' Byrne 
Bitterns are being reported regularly and I have not had a visit recently when I’ve failed to see one. Usually they are noticed in flight while relocating within the reedbed, but occasionally they can be seen either feeding, sunbathing and preening on the edge of the reeds.

Mallards (c) Bark
Many of the drake Mallard have emerged from their eclipse plumage. They are flaunting their bright green emerald heads and fresh plumage as they circle females in groups bobbing their heads in display. There are more Wigeon arriving but not yet in the numbers that we will see later in the autumn. A small number of Teal are loafing around but are still dressed in their drabber eclipse plumage.
Kingfisher in the mist (c) Bark
Kingfishers are being seen regularly now on both lagoons and at the Noke balancing pond.
It would seem that there is a very healthy and extensive population of small mammals out in the fields. This is based on actual evidence on the ground, where small holes and runs are clearly visible in the grass. The reserve has been very dry all summer so that burrows will not have been flooded and the grasses set seed rapidly, which must have helped to encourage rapid breeding.

Kestrel with prey (c) Bark        Kestrel pouncing (c) JR
The other indicator is the number of Kestrels on the reserve and their evident success in catching small mammal prey. We also have an early presence of Short Eared Owls on the moor this autumn.
S.E.O. at first screen (c) Peter West
S.E.O. (c) Matthew O'Byrne
There was another young Marsh Harrier over the reedbed on Sunday that spent over an hour perched in a rather ungainly manner in one of the willows out amongst the phragmites.
Young Marsh Harrier (c) Bark
Sparrowhawks and Buzzards were regular but we saw no sign of last weekends Peregrine.
Stonechat (c) JR
There are still at least five Stonechats on the MOD fields but I couldn’t find any at Noke when I walked down there on Sunday.
Barnacle Geese (c) JR
A small flock of about ten Barnacle Geese were seen on Sunday feeding slightly separate from the much larger flock of Greylags. Currently there appear to be fewer Canada Geese on the moor but they may just be off foraging further afield.
Chiffy second screen (c) Bark

Over the next couple of weeks Fieldfares will arrive lagging not too far behind the Redwings. A small group of about fifteen Golden Plover were reported last Friday and they too will become more frequent. The pace of the season is accelerating and we should finally be moving out of the doldrums.
NB Until the 12th of October there will be road closures between Islip and Beckley so it would be wise to check in advance if coming from that direction.

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