I find alot of birds amusing to watch: razorbill falling off the cliff ledges; only remembering they can fly half way down, long tailed tits flitting around seemingly completely over balanced by their tails. But the spoonbill for me is the funniest. Not only is it clownish in apperance with its long bony legs and huge bowled beak, but it also has to be one of the more amusing calls; half way between a comedy car horn, a squeeking wheelbarrow and an old man about to sneeze. So I was delighted this morning when the reports that 7 spoonbill were feeding down on middlebere channel today, putting an end to their two week absence. If only they'd breed here too.....
Another amusing event today was when one of the kestrel chicks spent at least 5 minutes trying to swallow a whole slow worm...ALIVE! So not only was the thing far to long to seemingly fit inside the chick it was putting up a hell of a fight to stay up and things were not helped by it's sibling who thought that pulling the lizard back out was a much better activity. Amazingly the little thing managed to keep it down finally and i would have thought is still feeling the bulge!
Arne is a wonderful place for many reasons, but perhaps one of its most overlooked specialities is the beautiful silver studded blue butterfly. A rarity to begin with, its specilist habitat is wet lowland heath where the heathers are kept low (a preference shared by another of Arne's inhabitants the woodlark). Today many a visitor returned with stories of pictures of the tiny butterfly and numbers will only increase till their peak numbers at the end of this month and early July.
As it was a tad breezy out on the heath today the Dartford's were keeping low, but it didnt stop the chiff chaff's and willow warbler's singing, or a relativley newcomer to Dorset the red kite from soaring over head. After a few days off, I was surprised to find how much the 2 kestrel chicks had grown, delighted to see that at least 2 swallows have hatched and disbelieving to find that the barn owls still have all 4 chicks. Although i deem it only a matter of time before the 2 older chicks (who are at least 5times as large as the younger 2) find their siblings to be a convient snack....
The highlight of the day was a keen eyed couple from 'up north' spotting a roosting male nightjar out on the coombe trail only metres away from the path! With any luck, he will make it a regular perch so that we can show more people these brilliant yet incredibly hard to spot birds. Much thanks to the couple who spotted it!
On the other side of the reserve there was another creature more at home at dusk seen in the sunshine; a natterers bat hanging out of an old woodpecker hole out towards Shipstal point! An update on the nest box camera's: The barn owls still have 4 chicks but two are looking considerably bigger than the other two (at least 3 times as big), which means I fear that it's only a matter of time untill we have just the two left....The Kestrel's again have just the two chicks who are growing fast and are now able to swallow a lizard whole!! The swallow is still sitting on her 5 eggs, which we expect to start hatching sometime this week.
Well what a week we've had...some great events this week taking a closer look at reptiles, spiders, moths, mammals and of course birds. A relatively quiet day bird wise today, as everything seemed to be trying to stay out of the sun. But that didn't stop plenty of vistors spotting the usual Dartford Warblers and Stonechats out on combe heath or the woodpeckers and nuthaches around the car park and woods.
Yet more dragonfly species were seen today but perhaps the most interesting spots today was in the ladybird department with a whopping 6 species seen out and about! Already Arne's visitors are learning how to recognise different inhabitants of the reserve, helped on by our events and of course Simon King and Springwatch, with lots of people happy with their identifications of raft spider and smooth snake!
Today the only way I can write this blog is by listing the huge amount of wildlife people saw on the reserve today, so here goes; for the birds:
Marsh tit, blackcap, nuthatch, g.s.woodpecker, g.woodpecker, sparrowhawk, swift, swallow, hobby, dartford warbler, stonechat, chiff chaff, meadow pipit, buzzard, l.egret, shelduck, willow warbler, curlew, tree pipit, linnet, kestrel, redshank.
and for the rest:
Sika deer, roe deer, bank vole, raft spider (and great views of one catching a damselfly), emperor dragonfly, 4 spot chaser, azure damselfly, common blue damselfly, blue tailed damselfly, brilliant emerald dragonfly, downy emerald dragonfly, large red damselfly, common blue butterlfy, green veitned white butterfly, orange tip butterfly, hairy dragonfly, broad bodied chaser, great diving beetle, greater waterboatman (with great views of one dragging a damselfly under the water!), common toad, palmate newt, green tiger beetle, asparagus beetle and grass snake!
WOW! what a list! well done to everyone who added to the list and lets see if we can beat it tommorrow!!!