Monday, 24 August 2015

Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd August

Whinchat (c) JR
Autumn always comes early for birders with the surge of passage migrants heading south. It starts as a trickle in mid July but by mid August has become a steady flow. It has been particularly noticeable on the moor this year.
Wader passage has been steady with two Green Sandpipers and a lone Black-tailed Godwit present in front of the first screen on Saturday and two Greenshanks there on Sunday evening. There are variable numbers of Snipe feeding in the same areas but it is impossible to guess whether they are resident post breeders or the beginning of the winter influx.

Blackwit, Green Sand and Common Sand (c) JR
It was clear this weekend that the large roaming flocks of mixed tits and warblers have either moved on or dispersed. There are still individuals both adults and juveniles to be found. Most of the warbler species were seen this weekend or in the case of Cetti’s, heard from several different locations.
The hotspots this weekend were all on the edges of the reserve, namely around Lower Farm at Noke, out at the Pill and in Long Meadow. At Noke all week there have been good numbers of Yellow Wagtails, several Wheatears and a smattering of Whinchats.
Wheatear (c) JR
The latter species seem to be fewer and farther between than in previous years, but this is a subjective judgement and there are many factors that govern how many come this way, how many stop a while and how many just keep going. The Wagtails have been most obliging feeding on the close cropped sheep pastures where they can be seen really well and often flying up onto the wires if spooked. There is a huge variation in colour and pattern between adults and juveniles and between male and female. Some birds are still in moult further complicating the matter. There have also been a few juvenile Pied Wagtails feeding amongst them and a single Green Woodpecker.

Wagtails and Wheatear (c) JR
Out at the Pill on Saturday there was a flock of at least fifty Yellow Wagtails that I only became aware of when they were flushed by a Sparrowhawk. The bird then alighted on a post and was mobbed by the flock for a few minutes before they flew off towards Greenaways. There were a further three Whinchats and a couple of Wheatears in the same area. The Wagtails are probably roosting in the reedbed as they have done in previous years.
Long Meadow is hosting both Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers as well as the regular resident Yellowhammers and Linnets. There were at least five Redstarts there on Sunday and probably the same on Saturday. The best way to see these stunning “fire flirts” is to find a quiet spot to stand in, perhaps with a bush behind you and patiently wait and listen. They will usually give themselves away by their quiet “huweet” contact call. They ambush insects from low down in the bushes and if you are still and silent they can come very close.
Fireflirt (c) JR
Kingfishers are once again both entertaining and frustrating photographers at the first screen and there was a parent and juvenile present together on Saturday the juvenile pestering the parent to feed it. One of the Bitterns was seen to fly low over the reeds on Saturday morning.
(c) JR
Amazing action sequence (c) Pat Galka
Our regular raptors are still around one of the adult Harriers photographed this weekend is looking very tatty as it moults. There are what appear to be two different family groups of Kestrels hunting over the reserve one keeping well to the east the other to the west. Hobbies are still taking advantage of the large numbers of dragonflies around and there have been up to four exploiting this rich but very mobile food source.

Hobby and moulting Harrier (c) JR

Kestrel (c) Tom Nicholson -Lailey
Herons and Little egrets continue to exploit the abundance of small fry in the lagoons and a number of Grey Herons can be seen standing like motionless sentinels out on the freshly mown grass. I can only assume that they are waiting to spear some of the small mammals that must have had a good breeding year in the much dryer than normal fields.
Patient Heron (c) JR
Having not seen any for a while it was good to spot some Common Lizards in the area prepared for them by the first screen. With migration getting into full swing who knows what will turn up next perhaps a Crake of a rarer heron, we will be looking.
Common Lizard (c) Tom Nicholson -Lailey

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