Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Saturday and Sunday 5th and 6th August

Juvenile Cuckoo (c) Tezzer

Both mornings this weekend on the moor were dry, but cool with the threat of rain never far away.
Just as over the last couple of weeks the main interest centred around young birds from a number of different species and not just the passerines. The mixed feeding flocks are very obvious, there was a group of over forty finches feeding on the track as it goes past the feeders. They were predominantly Chaffinches but amongst them were a number of Bullfinches, another species that is currently very common in the hedgerows.
Some of the chaffinches (c) Bark
Turtle Dove pair? (c) Derek Lane
On Sunday morning a juvenile Water Rail kept appearing and disappearing in the rough cut reeds right in front of the first screen. It was both skittish and gawky, looking as if it hadn’t yet become familiar with how to manage its long legs and feet. With such a sustained and close view it was possible to really appreciate its’ lateral compression, the adaptation that enables it to move so easily through densely growing reeds.

Juvenile water Rail (c) JR
A young Green Woodpecker has been noted from the same area sitting up very obligingly on the dead branches of one of the oaks. Reed Warblers are very busy along the bridleway ditches and in front of both screens. They are clearly gathering food for second broods and sometimes feeding youngsters fresh out of the nest.
Juvenile Green Woodpecker (c) Bark
Last weekend a visitor reported seeing a juvenile Cuckoo beside the first screen and there were several reports of the same bird during the earlier part on the week. On Thursday it was seen and photographed by T.S. as it posed right out in the open on the “kingfisher perch” in front of the screen. It was no longer being fed by its surrogate parents and stopped on the perch for only a couple of minutes before making off. It is a typical juvenile cuckoo; dark brown flecked with white and grey and having a rufous cast on the wings. P.G. looked at a picture of a juvenile cuckoo he took last August and his bird was very much more rufous than any of the current crop of juvenile pictures that we have seen. This led us to speculate that it may in fact have been the hepatic bird that we saw on the moor this summer, returning to the area where it fledged last year. We would welcome any views or suggestions as to the likelihood that this might be possible.

This years bird above (c) Tezzer         Last years more rufous bird below (c) Stoneshank
The juvenile Marsh Harriers have moved off and this weekend we only saw the adults that we are familiar with. On Saturday morning two juveniles were seen at Farmoor before moving off high and later being seen again at Standlake. We assumed that they were two of “our” juveniles. On Sunday evening another young Marsh Harrier was seen over the reedbed, it had at least one bright green wing tag (it was seen a considerable distance and so whether there were two tags and a number was not clear) There is as tagging programme being run by a North Norfolk Group supported by the Hawk and Owl Trust. It suggests that this individual has already travelled from East Anglia and so it is not surprising that our youngsters are now also on the move.
Kebabbed Sedgie! (c) JR
Out at the Pill there is what appears to be a family party of Stonechats. Three juveniles and a pair of adults. They were first found on Thursday and were still around at the weekend. It is an early record for a bird that we would normally expect to find arriving to overwinter during autumn. Another juvenile was seen and photographed at least three weeks ago, I understand that they have bred this year up on the Downs and it might just be that this is a family from there or perhaps from even nearer still. There are still five or six Redstarts in Long Meadow and on Sunday there were still two Spotted Flycatchers.
Reedy (c) Bark
There were many butterfly enthusiasts out on Sunday hoping to see Brown Hairstreaks, they were rewarded with some sightings but as always with these tiny creatures it is luck and sunshine dependent, if you are to get great views and close-up pictures. Purple Hairstreaks were also present. I have heard that several weeks ago, over on the other side of the moor in some suckering elms, there was a single record of a White Letter Hairstreak.

Purple Hairstreak (c) Tezzer      Immaculate Brown Hairstreak (c) Ewan Urquart

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