Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th March

Very characterful rook (c) JR

Back on the moor after two weeks and there are already further signs of spring including the welcome arrival of a pair of Garganey. They are one of the smartest looking ducks and all the better for being rarer and when they are here, elusive and difficult to see. They seemed to have adopted the reedy pool on the edge of the Closes, having been there for three days but have not been seen since Sunday morning.
Garganey pair (c) JR
Other new arrivals during my absence included small flocks of Dunlin, rather than the singletons that we have had so far, several Ruff have been seen and at least two Ringed Plover.
Ringed Plover (c) Badger
There are plenty of suitable pools and scrapes, that will attract passage waders this spring. Amongst the most easily watched and most rewarding, at the moment, is the flooded area on the field to the left of the path as you head towards the second screen, Noke Sides as it is known. There is a “window” cut into the blackthorn hedge that offers shelter from both the birds and the wind. This weekend some of the several thousands of Golden Plover that are still on the moor were feeding and mooching on this field.
Goldies on Noke Sides (c) JR
They are really beginning to colour up now and developing their distinctive summer plumage. The Plovers were accompanied by non-resident Lapwings and at times a flock of seventeen Dunlin. The field and its scrapes are also popular with Redshanks and there were at least twenty birds there on Saturday and Sunday, calling and courting. There was also one lone Ringed Plover that could easily be overlooked.
The Golden Plover are very restless and easily spooked and at one time on Sunday when they had flushed from all parts of the reserve the sky seemed full of them. Flocks were stacked one above another flying in different directions sometimes in neat chevrons, sometimes in tight starling like flocks and at other times simply scattered everywhere.

Multi Goldies (c) Top Derek Lane , centre two Mark Chivers and bottom JR

Grey Herons are breeding both in the reed bed and back again in the stunted oaks in front of the hide. The nest there has been extended and an “annexe” is now occupied by another pair. It was excellent to watch the progress of the young birds last time from newly hatched to fully fledged.

Nestbuilding Herons (c) Derek Lane

A Barn Owl was seen in the carpark field on Sunday and the Short Eared Owls both here and at other points around the reserve have been very obliging as they hunt increasingly in daylight. This is much to the delight of visiting photographers.
Shorty (c) JR
The finch feeding programme is continuing and is still pulling in a rich and varied number of seed eaters. A Brambling on Sunday was feeding on the main feeders and if it stays around for another couple of weeks should be in full bright summer plumage.
Resident Lapwings are tumbling and calling and as I write the RSPB staff are out looking for the first Lapwing nests. Snipe have started drumming and will probably do so for the next three months, they can also be heard “chipping” as can Redshank, after a little while it is possible to tell the two apart, the Redshank a bit louder, sharper and slightly slower than the Snipe.
Brambling by the feeders (c) Derek Lane
A Chiffchaff was calling in the carpark field on Sunday and I had hoped to report the first Wheatear this week but as yet we have not found one. So something to search for next week.

Short video from the weekend please view at 720p HD

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