Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Saturday - Monday 10th-12th August

Redstart (c) Paul Wyeth
An unseasonably windy and stormy weekend. It was difficult to find any birds at all on Saturday it was so stormy! Small birds were hunkered down in the bushes and hedgerows, and difficult to pick out in the moving vegetation. At the first screen ducks are loafing about and are slowly undergoing their annual moult. Snipe are feeding along the margins, resting and preening among the dead reed stems. They can be difficult to see and if they flush en masse it is always surprising to realise just how many have been lurking, perfectly camouflaged and unnoticed.
Muddy margin southern lagoon (c) Bark
On Sunday in the sheltered areas out of the wind, there were many mixed flocks of warblers to be found. On the path to the second screen Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were darting in and out over the brambles, along the bridleway Garden Warblers were feeding in the willows near the bench.

Warblers (c) Bark
In the areas along the bridleway, that were cleared in the hedgerow rotation programme last winter annual weeds have sprung up in profusion, thistles, groundsel and willow herb have all set seed, Goldfinches, Reed buntings and Bullfinches are taking advantage of this abundance. Goldfinches in particular look to have had a very successful breeding season with a much higher proportion of juveniles to adults.
Young Goldfinch (c) Bark
There are at least seven and maybe more Kestrels over and around the reserve a mix of  adults and juveniles. They probably represent two family groups one of which hunts along the hedge on the north side of Greenaway’s and out over the Flood Field and the other over Big Otmoor and Ashgrave. It must be the peak time for numbers of small mammals, and I have seen several Kestrels making off with little furry bundles in their talons. 

kestrels (c) Bark
The young Marsh Harriers have moved away but the adult birds are being seen from time to time. The male is in primary moult and his wings are looking very scruffy and sparse. Peregrines are now being seen regularly over the moor, having been much more of an occasional sighting during the summer.

Common Blue Butterflies (c) Bark

About twelve years ago we experienced a massive explosion in the population of Common Blue butterflies along the track to the second screen. Whilst not on the same scale as that bumper year, there are now many more of these small, attractive, brightly coloured butterflies to be seen along this path, than there have been since that unusual year.
Mallow along the path (c) Bark

On Monday several Redstarts were found out on the MOD land beyond the Pill and last week two females were seen in the vicinity of the Roman Road.

Long meadow Redstart above (c) Paul Wyeth and 100 acre field Redstart below (c) Steve Roby
I went down too Noke in the hope of finding some Yellow Wagtails amongst the sheep but drew a blank. However, I did find a pair of Wheatears feeding from one of the fences near the farm, the first of this autumn’s passage. This was  pleasing, as their passage in the spring was very patchy. 

Wheatears at Noke (c) Bark
A hobby was swooping repeatedly over Ashgrave and clearly catching large dragonflies which are also now at their most abundant.
Southern Hawker (c) Paul Wyeth

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