Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Round-up 22nd August

Lesser Whitethroat (c) Bark

Summer retreated this weekend and gave us an early taste of autumn, with occasional squally showers and strong winds.
Not surprisingly the birds were keeping their heads down and so seeing anything well was always a bit tricky. But with some effort there were some good things to be found.
It is a challenge when you find a mixed feeding party and we spent some time on Sunday morning along the path to the second screen, going through a mixed flock of warblers and tits. There were neat dapper Lesser Whitethroats, Common Whitethroats, slim very yellow Willow Warblers, dumpy Chiffchaffs and acrobatic Long Tailed Tits. One Willow Warbler was still singing from time to time very quietly, as if wistfully recalling the spring.
Reed warbler (c) Tom N-L
Earlier in the week the Common Cranes were seen to fly very high and then drift off in a south westerly direction. They have not been spotted since and have probably headed off towards the Somerset Levels, where they were known to have spent last winter. We will be keenly watching out for their return next spring.
Female Common Blue (c) Bark
There have been more waders coming through and they are taking advantage of the growing area of mud in front of the first screen and the shrinking scrapes on Greenaways. There have been a steady stream of Greenshanks coming through with a peak count of nine on Thursday. A party of Bar-tailed Godwits flew through on Thursday but didn’t stay. Green Sandpipers have also been coming through I saw three on the southern lagoon on Thursday evening, on Tuesday a Common Sandpiper was there. The muddy margins in front of the first screen are a magnet for Snipe either dozing preening or feeding busily. When not alarmed they have quite an unhurried flight and sometimes jump up and flutter their wings before carrying on feeding. This is also a great place to see Water Rails. There were three there on Thursday two different adults and a juvenile. The juvenile was still pursuing the adult for and begging for food. Bitterns are still being seen regularly, I had excellent views on Saturday of a flypast, but they are appearing less frequently than they were a couple of weeks ago.
Purple Heron Thursday (c) Paul Brennan
The Purple Heron is still present but has become even more reclusive than before. It is putting in just one or two brief appearances a day when it relocates from one feeding area to another. When another one appeared near Coventry we naturally assumed that it was “our” bird. Later the same day however ours reappeared. The other bird was also a juvenile and we idly speculated where they could have come from and if they might have even been from the same brood.
There are still some large Pike in the southern lagoon. (c) Paul Brennan
Long Meadow still harbours passage Redstarts and will do for the next few weeks. They are not always easy to find being very flighty. Patience usually pays off, keeping still and quiet and watching for a flash of rusty red. They move from bush to bush and perch low down looking for insects in the grass. Their “huweet” contact call is also a giveaway to their presence. Similar to the Willow-chiff call but longer and slightly deeper. There were also a small family party of Spotted Flycatchers there on Thursday, two of the juveniles still looking very downy and being fed by the adult, suggesting that they had not come very far from the nest.
Spotted Flycatchers (c) Paul Brennan
There was a female Wheatear at Noke on the fence of one of the sheep fields on Sunday and on Thursday at least fifteen Yellow Wagtails. They appear to be roosting in the reedbed that runs along the northern edge of Ashgrave. Starlings have started to mass for roosting at the main reedbed. There are at least a couple of thousand coming in already and although the pre roost flypast is not the mass murmuration of the winter it can still be spectacular. It is a much more unhurried business while it is warm and light. It is also likely to be accompanied by a spectacular sunset. 

Such sunsets as these ....(c) Tom N-L

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