Thursday, 20 June 2019

6th-16th June

Six Sedgies (c) Bark

After a few very dry months the rains have certainly come at last. The pools on Greenaways have refilled and the Ashgrave scrapes are much wetter. The grasses have shot up and when the sun has occasionally appeared between the showers the moor is verdant and lush. The refreshed foliage is full of insects and the birds with chicks to feed are busy foraging and provisioning their broods. 
Common Tern (c) Bark
The rain has not benefited everything however, the Tern colony, which was doing so very well ten days ago, is much reduced. There are now just six birds still sitting and only three chicks can be seen on the raft. They are at very different stages of development and so must come from different broods. The heavy rainstorms and chill winds will have taken their toll on the downy chicks.
Tern Raft Before the rain (c) Bark
There are young birds everywhere along the hedges and in the bushes. Blue and Great Tits are already coming together into mixed flocks and they are working their ways through the foliage picking up all kinds of invertebrate food.

Blue and Great Tits and a Young Robin (c) Bark
We were lucky enough to be on hand at the first screen just as a clutch of six Sedge Warblers left the nest and huddled together at the top of a hawthorn. The parent birds fed them a couple of times and then coaxed them up into the larger hedge and the oak trees behind where they spread out and didn’t present such an easy target.
Sedge Family (c) Derek Lane
There were another family group being fed outside of the nest in the reeds by the bridge near the hide. I also saw young Blackcaps, Wrens and Robins on Sunday.

Blackcap (c) Bark and Wren (c) Paul Wyeth
There are Tufted Ducks, Pochard and Shovellers all with ducklings of different stages of development on both the main lagoons.
Tufty family (c) Bark
On and over the reedbeds there is lots of activity by the Marsh Harriers. As yet however, we have not observed female Bitterns making their regular and predictable feeding flights. There have just been occasional more random sightings.
Bittern (c) Derek Lane

There are a number of Warblers setting territories up for second broods. There is a particularly loud and persistent male Common Whitethroat advertising his presence by the kissing gate with almost continuous calling and aerial displays. Sedge Warblers are still bickering with neighbours and the Grasshopper Warbler has started reeling again in the carpark field.

Common Whitethroat (c) Bark

Cuckoos are still chasing and calling, and the females are still looking for opportunities to drop their eggs into Reed Warbler nests. They will not linger long however once mid-summer day has passed.
Cuckoo (c) Bark
There are Hobbies on and around the larger fields and one was showing particularly well on Sunday flying out from a fence post to seize large dragonflies which it returned to its perch to dismember and eat.
Hobby and prey (c) Bark
Invertebrate life is burgeoning. As it gets warmer more and more Dragonflies and Butterflies will be on the wing. Just over ten days ago before the rains set in, I spotted my first Meadow Brown of the year and there were four or five Small Tortoiseshells along the bridle way in the last weekend. There are strange and interesting bugs to be found if one looks carefully enough.
Golden -bloomed Grey longhorn Beetle (c) Heather Banyard
We have been sent pictures of a Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle and a Rhinoceros beetle. There should be black Hairstreak Butterflies on the wing along the Roman Road and it will be fascinating to see if we record Purple Emperor again this year.
My first Meadow Brown of the year.

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