|Kingfisher (c) Derek Latham|
Summer finally arrived and provided the warmest august bank holiday weekend for years. Yet again I managed to miss most of the best birds that were around especially the adult Red Backed Shrike that was found in Long Meadow on Sunday morning perched in the hedge on the left, about a hundred metres in, sitting and preening in the sunshine. The most galling part of this being that at about this time I was close by in the carpark! It is always a good idea to carry a mobile phone and be able to get through to Oxon Bird Log just in case one comes upon something unusual such as this shrike. The observer also found five Redstarts in the same field, although by later in the day they had moved into July’s Meadow and now numbered ten. There were Stonechats and Whinchats out at the Pill and on the part of Ashgrave that borders July’s Meadow.
|Spot Fly at the old stop butt (c) JR|
We are also experiencing a rise in the number of Spotted Flycatcher sightings that always occurs at this time of the year. As well as being seen in Long Meadow and along the main bridleway, we saw one flycatching from the very top dead branches of the oak behind the first screen on Saturday morning. Yellow Wagtail numbers are still on the rise. They are hunting around the feet of the cattle on Greenaways and Ashgrave and can also be seen coming in to roost on the reedbed at dusk.
Looking out from the first screen there have been regular wader sightings. There have been three Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers as well as lots of Snipe. Larger flocks of Lapwings are beginning to be seen with a party of at least one hundred and twenty over the reedbed and Noke Sides on Sunday.
|Snipe (c) Derek Latham|
The waters’ edge and the mudbanks look as though there has been a light snowfall. It is the down discarded as the moulting ducks continually preen, primp and pluck at their feathers. Already some of the Gadwall and a few Mallard are beginning to show some colour as they emerge from their drab eclipse plumage.
|Circling Cranes as they left (c) Norman Smith|
The Common Cranes appear to have left now. They were seen by several observers last week as they flew over Greenaways bugling loudly and then circled for a while still calling, and gaining height, before finally heading off in a south westerly direction. They left a week or so later than last year and they may just have been waiting for favourable conditions and good thermals to give them lift. It has been wonderful having them on the moor and although they failed to raise any young again this year it is a credit to the reserve and the habitat that has been created, that they tried. We expect that they will over-winter on the Somerset Levels, as they have for the last two years and look forward to hearing them and seeing them back again next spring.
Bitterns are still with us but are still unpredictable and elusive being seen mostly in flight. Later in the autumn is the best time to see them on the ground as they haunt the reedy fringes of the northern lagoon.
|Sprawk and Hobby (c) Derek Latham|
There are a variety of raptors on and around the reserve at the moment. The Hen Harrier is showing more frequently but always at a considerable distance usually on the northern side of Greenaways.
|Distant Hen Harrier and Kestrel (c) Pat Galka|
|Kestrel (c) Bark and Sprawk at the screen (c) JR|
News of a Night Heron just a few miles away in Buckinghamshire has piqued our interest and we will be looking carefully for any grey and black egret sized birds that might be lurking around the edges of the reedbed.
|Still here! (c) JR|