Monday, 30 April 2012

Saturday, Sunday and Monday 28th-30th April

Reed Bunting (c) Carole Findlay

                                                     Reed Warbler (c) Carole Findlay

                                 Cuckoo also taken through iphone with scope (c) Andy Last
Ring Ouzel (c) Andy Last taken with iphone through scope

After the way that I have moaned about the drought I didn’t expect to get to a point where I was complaining about the rain, but it did make conditions very difficult for birds and birders over the weekend.
I started out the weekend at 5 am. on Saturday with a very hardy band of people who had turned out for a “dawn chorus” walk. Despite the wind and the light rain we managed to hear Sedge, Reed, Willow and Grasshopper Warblers as well as the other expected species. Cuckoo was also heard and seen over all the weekend. There were three Ringed Plovers on the scrapes in front of the hide on Saturday and two Golden Plovers still lingered on Monday morning.
There were two different Ring Ouzels seen in the field just to the south of the Closes, at one time accompanied by at least twelve Wheatears. Another party of eleven Wheatears were on Ashgrave on Monday morning. Both Hobby and Merlin were seen on Monday and the first Swifts of the season were noted on Saturday morning with many more seen on Monday. On Saturday a small party of Swallows were almost stationary flying into the wind and picking insects off the surface of the water. It was possible to stand and have them almost flying on the spot beside you. A Yellow Wagtail was found on the MOD land on Monday morning.
The heavy rain has made a huge difference to the moor. There was concern expressed that the cold wet conditions would take a heavy toll on the newly hatched Lapwings out on Big Otmoor. This morning however it was possible to find a good number of chicks by scanning the islands and ridges out on the field, they seemed active and healthy and the parents were as attentive as usual.
We have had several reports of Marsh Harriers using the reed bed and on Sunday evening Pete Roby saw two birds going in to roost. Peregrine has been seen frequently over Ashgrave and occasionally sitting on the ground. This morning we found a Nightingale singing from the pocket of wet woodland that sticks out into Ashgrave, it was not singing very powerfully or for long periods and so may be a bird that is on passage, I would appreciate anyone else who might hear it getting in touch.
Most noticeable birds at present are Skylarks and they were singing in the teeth of the gale and driving rain on Saturday, when the sun came out today they seemed to be everywhere. Turtle Dove is the last major summer migrant that we expect on the moor and is one that we are always anxious about. They have a very hazardous journey to get here and because of their difficult migration and their declining status in the U.K. it is always a relief when they do make it. Watch this space for the latest news.

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