Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May Bank Holiday Weekend

Sedge Warbler (c) JR

The weekend began early for me as I led a guided dawn chorus walk on Saturday, starting at 5 pm. Saturday became greyer and cloudier as the day progressed while Sunday morning was a wash-out. Monday however was perfect with a south easterly breeze and warm sunshine.
Dawn on Saturday flushed the sky with orange and pink and as if on cue a flight of six Mute Swans flew towards the sun each bird reflecting the the colours on heads wings and breasts.
Dawn swans (c) Bark
It was a great start to the walk on which we recorded over forty different species including drumming Snipe and and all the regular warblers except Grasshopper Warbler.
Drummer (c) JR
At least three Cuckoos were present adding their voices to the soundscape. Garden Warbler had arrived during the preceding week and there were at least three different individuals to be heard. Tawny Owl has been calling from the Roman Road early most mornings and several visitors have seen a Barn owl hunting in the car park field as it starts to get light.
Cuckoo (c) JR
Hobbies are now present in good numbers as they usually are at this time of year. There have been up to thirteen birds hunting over Greenaways and the reedbed during the afternoons and evenings. They seem to spend a couple of weeks here after arriving from migration before dispersing to breed, initially St. Marks Flies are a favoured food. On Saturday however we noticed the first of the large Dragonflies on the wing, which will soon become their principle prey while they are here.  We did not see the dragonfly well enough to identify it properly but the earliest large ones to emerge on the moor are the Hairy Dragonflies.
Hobby (c) JR
As I walked through the carpark field on Monday morning Sedge Warblers seemed to be rapping out their manic song from almost every bush, there must have been an influx overnight or perhaps the stormy weather of Sunday had pushed them down or at least blown them in.
Common Tern on the raft (c) JR
Another bird affected by the weather was a flyover Arctic Tern seen over the first lagoon on Sunday during a sharp shower. There were five Common Terns disputing ownership of the Tern raft on Monday morning, there should be no dispute as two pairs managed to nest on it successfully last year.
Lapwing (c) Mark Chivers
Amongst the non breeding Lapwings on Noke Sides were two Ruff one of which was showing his breeding plumage, the other pale individual I took to be a female. When all the birds flushed for a passing raptor we saw there had also been a Bar Tailed Godwit in one of the ditches, we failed to relocate it but it is probably out on Big Otmoor or in the flooded grassland to the north of Noke Sides.
Gropper (c) Nick Truby
A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling beside the path to the first screen on Monday and showing well at times in the low bushes beside the reedy ditch.
Intrusive drone (c) Early Birder
On Monday morning about ten o clock someone from a position somewhere north west of the reserve was flying a drone out over the moor and especially low and high over the reedbed. As well as the anti social buzzing sound it is quite objectionable to fly such a craft over an area that holds or could hold sensitive breeding birds. It seems likely that if we could not see the person controlling it then they would in turn not be able to see us, which itself is dangerous. There is in fact a low flying zone for civil aircraft over the reserve and we would hope that every one would respect it regardless of the size of their craft.

Shoveller and Wren (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Finally we are still hoping that the Turtle Doves are going to return in next few days. The north easterly winds of the previous couple of weeks may have checked their northward migration. It would be tragic if these beautiful birds dwindled and disappeared as did the Nightingales that used to be such a special part of an Otmoor spring.
Nature can be cruel:
Gosling (c) JR

Kite with breakfast (c) Mark chivers

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