Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Saturday and Sunday 3rd and 4th August

Lesser Whitethroat (c) Paul Wyeth

High Summer, and for the first time this year there is very little that is very new or different happening on the moor. The colours across the fields have changed subtly and the topping of the grasses has left stripes of ochre and green. The phragmites are starting to show their bronzy tasselled silky seed-heads in the reedbed and along the ditches.

Willow Warbler, Blue Tit and Robin (c) Bark

The numbers of small passerines are approaching their peak but are still being swollen by the addition second and even third broods. 
Long-tailed Tit (c) JR
The abundance of mixed parties of Tits and Warblers suggests that the weather pattern has swollen invertebrate numbers, which in turn  has meant that it has been easier to provision large broods. On Saturday we noticed a young Marsh Tit foraging along the bridleway along with a large number of Blue and Great Tits.
Marsh Tit (c) Bark

Wader passage is picking up, with the rapidly expanding mud in front of the first screen, it has usually been possible to find a Common or Green Sandpiper delicately picking flies off the surface of the mud and the shallow water. Common Snipe are feeding in the shallows and Lapwings are loafing about on the mudbanks having been feeding in the recently hayed fields on Noke Sides.
Saturday morning Muntjac (c) JR
We are hopeful that we might find something a little more unusual in the coming few weeks, perhaps a Wood Sandpiper or Spotted Redshank. It would also be good to have a visit from Greenshanks; they were very scarce in the spring passage with just a couple of records. The pattern of weather over the next few weeks suggests that there will be frequent heavy and blustery showers, and these can force migrating birds down to rest and feed.

Redstarts above (c) Bark below (c) Paul Wyeth

Our late summer Redstarts are around in the usual places and are just as flighty and elusive as ever, but as yet  we have not found any post breeding family parties of Spotted Flycatchers nor have we seen any more young Stonechats around the reserve. The cattle were feeding close to the hide on Sunday and we scanned carefully around them to look for Yellow Wagtails. 

First you see it and then you don't Painted Lady (c) Bark
Each year as the summer progresses, we find a small flock that will feed around their feet and take advantage of the large numbers of flies that they attract as well as the other insects they disturb as they move through the pasture. For five or six weeks at the end of the summer Yellow Wagtails roost in the reedbed prior to their migration but they have not yet started to do so. We have yet to record Grey Wagtail on the moor this year, so there’s something else to look out for.

Hare in a hurry (c) Bark

On Saturday morning a Hare almost ran into me as it wandered through Long Meadow realising at the last moment that I was there. I had already stopped taking pictures as it was too close!

Common Blue (c) Bark and Brown Hairstreak (c) Paul Wyeth

As predicted last week the Brown Hairstreaks are now attracting butterfly enthusiasts in large numbers. They can most easily be seen when they come down to nectar on thistles or brambles, the rest of the time they can be spotted flitting high around the top of their favoured ash tree along the Roman Road. In the same location it is possible, if you are sharp eyed, to find Brown and Rosel’s  Bush Crickets, the Rosel’s sporting their Nike sponsorship “swoosh” !

Above Brown Bush Crickets ? and below Rosel's (c) Steve Roby

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