|Juvenile dunnock (c) Bark|
We have experienced everything that the British summer can throw at us during the past fortnight. We have had extremes of heat, sunshine, humidity and downpours. I have also had rather cool breezy mornings and even some mist. The moor and its wildlife have proved to be remarkably resilient in the face of exceptional conditions.
|Redshanks and Common Sand (c) Bark|
The water levels in front of the first screen have continued to reduce and more mud is being exposed and is consequently attracting more waders. We have had a regular flock coming and going of over one hundred and sixty Lapwings many of which are juveniles. The youngsters have very small crests and show a yellowish “nicotine stained “ face. Their feathering is more scaly than regular adults. A lone very young Little Ringed Plover was also seen both weekends.
|Lapwings (c) Bark|
This weekend there have been four juvenile redshanks feeding across the mudbank and two young Common Sandpipers have been picking insects from amongst the drying vegetation and venturing into the reeds themselves.
|Blackwits (c) JR|
Last week three Black tailed Godwits dropped in, but we could not locate them again out on Big Otmoor. Post breeding parties of Snipe can also be spotted among the dead stems of last year’s reeds although numbers are difficult to assess as they are so well camouflaged. A newly fledged group of five young Curlew are frequenting Greenaway’s and are very likely to have been raised in the greater Otmoor basin.
|young Curlew (c) Bark|
Elsewhere on the reserve young birds and parent bird with bills full of food seem to be everywhere. I have seen several clutches of freshly fledged Blackcaps being provisioned away from the nest, they keep in touch with the adults and each other using a sharp “tzack” call like two stones being rapped together.
|Young Blackcaps (c) Bark|
A notable find on the twentieth of July was a juvenile Stonechat near the cattle pen on Greenaway’s. This is the second consecutive year that we have seen very young Stonechats on the moor in July and wonder if it means that they are breeding close by.
|Juvenile Stonechat (c) JR|
Last weekend there were at least eleven Common Redstarts a field close to the reserve. This area must be very important for moulting, feeding and fattening up before migration. They can usually be heard before they are seen as they use a “wheeet” call similar to that of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff but a little more drawn out and stronger.
|Distant Redstart (c) Bark|
Common Terns are still on the raft and around the ditches and lagoons but breeding activity seems to have stopped now for this season. Bitterns are still being seen over Greenaway’s and the reedbeds but not with the same level of regularity which we saw last year.
|Common Tern (c) JR|
Young Marsh Harriers can be seen loafing in the low bushes around the northern reedbed. Once again there has been an influx of Kestrels onto the reserve. It seems to be a regular annual occurrence. They appear not to breed on the reserve but arrive post breeding to take advantage of the abundant large insects and rodents out in the grasslands. On Saturday there was one group of four loosely associating over the flood field and another couple of adults over Big Otmoor and Ashgrave.
|Kestrel (c) JR|
Our star butterfly, the Brown Hairstreak, is now on the wing and can often be seen along the Roman Road. Over the next few weeks I am sure that they will attract many admirers once again.
|Brown Hairstreak (c) Paul Wyeth|
A Purple Emperor was spotted at the top of one of the oaks in the Roman Road, this is the second year that one has been recorded in this vicinity and suggests that there may be a satellite colony becoming established. We are not very far away from the very strong population in Bernwood.
|Cinnabar Caterpillar (c) Bark|
My last posting's mystery insect was an icheumon wasp (thanks to Jeremy Dexter) This weeks is even weirder!
|???? (c) Paul Wyeth|
On Tuesday of last week, we scattered Paul Greenaways ashes, appropriately enough in the middle of Greenaway’s, in accordance with his wishes. Attended by his brothers, some of his birding friends and a fly over Curlew we let him go, it seemed totally appropriate to leave his final remains in the place that he loved so much. Rest in peace Paul.
|Curlew over (c) Bark|