Tuesday morning. Arriving at the Carpark i was feeling slightly disconsolate as i viewed the grey gloomy skies. A chill wind was blowing from the north and a heavy drizzle accompanied the drab atmosphere. I very nearly turned around and went home. But i am so glad i didn't. Although the weather struggled to improve, at least the drizzle stopped. I had not gone far before i saw my first Turtle Doves of the year. Two of them flying past the cattle pens, heading towards the Roman road. I could also hear another purring in an Oak tree along the bridleway. I soon found the one in the Oak tree and another i could see perched in one of the dead Elms further along the track. I had only been walking five minutes and already seen four of these magnificent creatures. Their soft purring calls matching their delicate appearance, one wonders how any of them make it through on their perilous journeys north and then south past the French guns among others.
One of the highlights of the day, was finding balls of Caterpillars in several locations. One of the volunteers had directed me to one and from then on i found several along the path to the screens. Clustered in balls, some of them clinging to silken web nests. Others had woven along branches creating silken highways. Others were dropping to lower branches on single strands, reminiscent of specialist soldiers sliding down ropes from a helicopter on some urgent mission. The caterpillars in question are of the Lackey Moth (Malacosoma Neustria). These caterpillars have an almost comical look about them. Colourful stripes along the hairy body of orange, yellow, white, blue and black. With their blue heads and markings that give the appearance of little faces.
Feeling Lackey Punk. Faces in the crowd.
Another insect to look out for are the Alder Flies that are scurrying back and forth on the screens. On the top boards of the viewing slots, along with the birds, they were a constant and welcome distraction, from the cold wind that blew across the water.
It was at the 1st screen that i first saw the Female Marsh Harrier. Drifting effortlessly over the reeds and frustratingly directly over the 2nd screen. It would land in the reeds and appear again about every 15 minutes or so. I had better views from the 2nd screen. Each time it got to close to the lagoon. A common Tern would rise from the raft and chase it off screeching angrily.
Return to base mission accomplished. (Common Tern)
Two Oystercatchers were probing away with their long orange beaks, on Ashgrave in front of the hide. They were joined by a curious lapwing who followed them around wherever they went.
The curious Lapwing..
Three Hobbys were seen today. A Buzzard and several Red Kites were also present.
Reed Warblers are calling with their scratchy song all along the bridleway and the flutier calls of the Sedge warblers also common on much of the reserve. A pair of Linnets have taken up residence at the end of the path to the 1st screen. Swifts were again everywhere on the reserve with smaller totals of Swallows and house Martins. A solitary Curlew was on Greenaways. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Photos from Tuesday plus Reed warbler and Moorhen From 16th May.
Photos from Tuesday..
Hobby On Greenaways.
House Martin taking the plunge at the 2nd screen..
Imm Herring Gull..
Turtle Dove on Oak tree..
Turtle dove on dead Elm with optical illussion of giant blackbird flying past.