Monday, 20 August 2012

Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th August

 Juvenile Reed Warbler (c) Bark
Juvenile Reed Bunting (c) Bark

Juvenile Green Woodpecker (c) Bark

Common Tern (c) Bark (out of focus but hell!)

Female Common Blue? (c) Bark

Young Common Lizard (c) Paul Greenaway
It took me until Sunday morning to realise what the subtle change that has happened over the last week was. Both mornings felt very different. It wasn’t the heat, the sunshine or the lack of wind, but the almost complete absence of birdsong. It is still possible to hear the tzacks, gurks and wheets of contact calls as parties of adults and juveniles feed along the hedgerows and reedbeds, but very few are now singing, just one rather mournful Robin in the car park field and a brief snatch of Sedge warbler from the ditch. Birds are concentrating on fattening up and moulting, and are often remaining in cover as they do so. There were a family party of young Green Woodpeckers that preceded me along the bridle way on Sunday and a clutch of six Reed buntings, not long out of the nest, practicing flying and landing in the reeds beside the path to the first screen. With patience it was possible to see all the common warblers except Gropper and the Lesser Whitethroats that I saw were looking especially smart.
A Spotted Flycatcher was feeding in the oaks behind the first screen on Sunday morning and a juvenile Peregrine flew low over Greenaways. From the first screen it was possible to see at least eighteen Snipe feeding on the edge of the reeds and a lone Green Sand. There was no sign of the Marsh Harriers that had been reported on Thursday and Friday, but Hobbies were taking full advantage of the large numbers of dragonflies that are now on the wing. There was also a report from a visitor of a Wood Warbler in midweek, he comes from somewhere in the Welsh borders and said that he was very familiar with the species. They must move through the county and I would really appreciate any further information that anyone has on this sighting.
While it is still dewy in the mornings we have often noticed efts (very young newts) crossing the paths. Young Common Lizards have been glimpsed and even photographed near the first screen. There have been several reports of diving beetles on the paths and I guess that if the pool that they are in starts to dry up their only resort is to wander off and try to find another. Any bug specialists who know better, please let us know. Many butterflies are on the wing and our non-avian surveyor Chris Bottrell saw five Brown Hairstreaks around the “master tree”, an ash along the Roman road. It will be very interesting to see, over the next few weeks, how successful they have been in such a difficult year.

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