Monday, 5 September 2016

End of August

Yellow Wagtail (c) Bark
This is one of the times in the year when everything seems to slow down a bit and superficially one week looks very much like another. There are subtle differences however nothing ever really stands still. The weather has been flipping between high summer and early autumn, cool in the mornings but warming up quickly in the sunshine. The silky tassels at the top of the phragmites reed stems have emerged fully now. They are in the process of turning from a reddish maroon when they first emerged to a beautiful pale coppery gold, as they ripen and set seed.

Blue Tit and Long Tailed Tit (c) Derek Lane
Juvenile Great and Blue Tits seem to use the dried hogweeds and cow parsleys as gym appliances as they glean insects from them, spending as much time upside down as up the right way. These mixed foraging parties often seem to have coalesced around a family of Log-tailed Tits. Amongst the Tits it is possible to find Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs along with the occasional Whitethroat and Blackcap. 
In Long Meadow there are still several Redstarts and on Sunday a family of four Lesser Whitethroats were fly catching from one of the isolated briars.

Lesser Whitethroats (c) Bark

The cattle on Ashgrave were feeding just in front of the hide and they were accompanied by at least ten Yellow Wagtails feeding in the grass under their legs seeming to risk being flattened in pursuit of the flies that the cows attract or disturb from the grass. From time to time they would fly up and land on the screening beside the hide giving excellent up close views.
Yellow Wagtail (c) JR

Out from the first screen the area of mud is getting bigger and is offering plenty of new feeding areas for snipe and places for ducks to loaf away the days as they moult out of eclipse and into their new plumage. There is a dirty white tide line around the lagoon made up of pale discarded feathers. The Mandarin ducks are still out there but sometimes spend some of their time out on the scrapes on Greenaways. A few passage waders have been moving through including Greenshank, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Sandpiper and Black tailed Godwit.

Small Tortoiseshell and Hornets nest at the Hide (c) Bark
Whinchats are popping up in different places across the moor. There were at least two in July’s meadow on on Sunday and on Saturday what we took for two Wheatears (we only saw them briefly) turned out on looking the pictures to have been a Whinchat and a Wheatear. They have also been spotted out on the fence line at the Pill one of their most regular haunts.
Wheatear and Whinchat July's Meadow(c) JR

The Purple Heron is still with us. It puts in very occasional and irregular appearances and must be the most difficult and frustrating bird to twitch. I would be very surprised if it stayed very much longer before heading south for the winter.

In previous years the next few weeks have turned up Wrynecks and Shrikes let’s hope that this year one or both put in an appearance.
Juvenile Peregrine (c) JR

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