Susan of the West Cumbria RSPB Group carrying out a Dragonfly Survey on the Reserve
Susan has been carrying out these Dragonfly Surveys since 2001. She also does a Breeding Bird Survey in the vicinity of Rogersceugh Farm too.
Bird seed crop of Oats and Kale is now attracting large flocks of Sparrows and Finches.
There are plenty of these fellows around
19th August - A trip along the boardwalk to the 'Lily' Pool
Numerous male Black Darters - newly emerged - on bracken along the track near the woodside pool
These mature male Black Darters were basking in the sun along a good length of the boardwalk
Again Common Lizards, too, were basking on the boards
View across the Reserve towards the Solway and the Scottish Hills
Bog Asphodel growing alongside the track
Insect eating Sundews growing in the wetter parts of the Moss
Other Bog Plants: Sphagnum Mosses and Cranberries
Looking across dammed pools towards the Northern Lake District Fells
Male Stonechat feeding young
Lily Pool - a few remaining lilies could be seen. An Emperor dragonfly was recently sighted here, ovipositing
Heather just coming into bloom across Bowness Common
Emerald damselfly species seen on vegetation near Lily pool
The New and the Old - Wind turbines and the decommissioned Chapel Cross - across the estuary
The last few days have been very warm and windless; rain at nights creating high humidity and the tides have entered into a high phase. One could feel a sense of the pulse of the estuary stepping up - it would culminate at the weekend with a particularly high one. Being Saturday, of course, this would tend to draw in the birding community to the Cardurnock Peninsula - although, it may not appear so on any map, it is effectively an island at the time of the high tides. They flood all approach roads, essentially cutting it off from the outside world for up to 2 hours, usually about midday. Thus, if you make the decision to come into the area, whoever you may be, you can be effectively marooned. Many have attempted to escape with dire results: a car flooded with seawater is no fun and very expensive!
So this was going to be one of those weekends and a sense of excitement was building! Shed loads of waders had been noted all week on the marsh here at Campfield. Numbers of Golden and Grey Plover had been increasing. Teal were much in evidence and large parties of Wigeon have been sighted this last ten days, with Shelduck now returning from their moulting grounds across the North Sea. - although the weather is still summery here the winter pattern is starting to set!
Saturday had now arrived – there had been heavy overnight rain but the wind had changed to the west and there was a briskness to it. By half past ten in the morning, recognisable cars full of birders were appearing on the marsh. The various access points and good viewing lay-bys were filling up rapidly – first comers would get the best seats. At the nearby Maryland Lay-by, overlooking the saltmarsh ‘Great’ pool, cars had begun to park, very considerately, diagonally in anticipation of large numbers of ‘migrant’ birders. The tension was growing! The mighty Solway Bore started to foam down the channel – faster than a man could run; the channels and runnels were already filling onto the saltmarsh; waders and duck were appearing from everywhere, seeking the sanctuary of the small islands of grass or, indeed, the pool itself; tightly packed Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank and Plover were already massing. The shrill cries of birders could be heard above the wind and tide, “Look! two Egrets” - “Where?” - “Twelve o’clock high” - “Teal! Teal!” “Three o’clock, coming in fast”. Cameras whirred, furiously scopes were being focussed – a Merlin shot across the pool creating panic! Someone shouted, “ Peregrine!” – this had everything diving for cover.
The excitement in the Lay-by was palpable. A sense of bonhomie prevailed: some groups excitedly comparing notes; the latest scopes being inspected and admired; sandwiches were now being consumed from the roofs of cars – quite a carnival atmosphere! Old friends were exchanging reminiscences of previous high tides: like the one that didn’t go out and another tide came in on top of it or the one with an 80 mph gale behind it which flooded the whole of the Solway Basin.
… but today the sun was out, the people were there and so were the birds. Campfield had come into its own!
Birdwatchers, mostly from West Cumbria RSPB Group, in Maryland Lay-by overlooking Saltmarsh Pool at high tide
The Solway Bore coming in started things off. To watch video click link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiiwAuzBgz8
Oystercatchers being pushed out of the gully up onto the saltmarsh as tide came in.
Oystercatcher roost on saltmarsh
Curlew and Godwits amongst the Oystercatchers
Little Egret flying along saltmarsh
Little Egret flying into Saltmarsh Pool
Duck and Lapwing activity on the Pool
Second Egret landing caused a stir amongst the nearby Gulls
General bird activity on Pool
As the pools flood bird activity steps up
High tide inundating the Pool
Good collection of waders further along Campfield marsh viewed from Biglands lay-by
Curlew landing amongst Golden Plover, Biglands layby
Waders flying back out to their feeding grounds on the Estuary, as the tide recedes
Common Blue Damselfly on track
Heron had been hunting for frogs in the dyke
Heron taking off near first Pool
Small Copper on trackside vegetation
Numerous small Tortoiseshell butterflies were flying today
Red Admiral on Willow-herb
Southern Hawker dragonfly (female) on trackside nettles
Young Little Grebe on 2nd Pool - seemingly managing alone
Brian (BB), from the West Cumbria RSPB group, has, for many years now, carried out a Saltmarsh Breeding Bird Survey
Peacock butterfly on track
Sedge Warbler on a useful perch
Sedge Warbler catching insects on a Willow, near 2nd pool
Sparrows overlooking seed field
Emerald damselfly on rushes
Black Darter dragonfly on pool margins
Fox trotting up the Lonning
Fox had spotted us
Heron giving the 1st screen a flyby
Teal taking off from rushy meadow near the hide
Small Copper on rushes
It was pretty hot; a sort of lethargic day really; had an end-of-summer feel to it – but Up! Up! – let us a voyage take. Why sit we here at ease?
… so off to the Reserve we went. First stop, just this side of the 1st Pool. The Sparrowhawk saw us at the same time we saw it - in the old dead tree. As far as I could tell it was a large mature female – something for the notebook anyway. She took off languidly towards the far wood.
We continued to meander along the Lonning and were promptly buzzed by a couple of large dragonflies … I thought big enough to be Emperors, Judith thought Southern Hawkers. Take your pick!
The day was going well. Blow Me! ‘our cup runneth over’, in a manner of speaking. The Merlin shot out from the 2nd screen and flew ahead of us down the Lonning – barely a foot above the ground – disappearing into the trees a few hundred yards further along.
After all this excitement, we reached the hide, hoping for a bit of rest – fat chance! I had barely managed to open the window of the aforementioned structure when we were greeted by a commotion almost above us. The Buzzard was having a spat with the Kestrel – bit one-sided this! – but understandable when one considers the nature of their respective prey: they both take their food from the ground and do not kill on the wing … so we have competition here! Anyway, Kestrel disappeared in the direction of the far wood; Buzzard continued circling.
So far we had seen no small birds at all - small wonder! Our day had been full of raptors. Feeling quite exhausted we decided to return for lunch – Judith reliably informed me that Baked Potato was on the menu.
As we reached the estuary front, we observed large numbers of Swallows flying low over the ‘sands’ and frequently alighting, obviously intent on some tasty morsels on the ground. I thought it would be interesting to find out what these tasty items were but the thought of Baked Potato got the better of me so deferred my bit of research until after lunch. Also, in my exhausted state, 100 yards of saltmarsh seemed an insuperable obstacle
Whilst consuming the longed-for lunch, we had the usual Sparrowhawk flypast – large female again! Where have all the males gone? - one wonders. Also, indeed, which female was it? This then led to the speculation, “which was the one that died last week in a collision with my neighbours window?” (see previous Blog).”Do Sparrowhawks share territories?”
All this intellectual effort put me in the mood for a post lunchtime siesta – the Swallow research would have to wait until later! This siesta continued for rather longer than anticipated but then my sense of duty finally overcame me and I started up the mower to give the grass in the orchard a long overdue cut.
But No! The raptors had not finished with me yet. Suddenly, a commotion started up out on the Reserve. Four members of our local Buzzard family were in aerial conflict with at least six Crows and 20 Rooks from the nearby rookery. This continued for at least ten minutes – a memorably spectacular air battle! Interestingly the Crows, at regular intervals, kept retiring to the broken willow tree to rest – leaving the Rooks to continue – before returning refreshed to the affray.
I have seldom seen a better display of the power of flight, diving, soaring and wheeling. A fitting end to a day of the Raptors.
Our local Buzzards
Kestrel hovering over saltmarsh
Adult fox hunting amongst recently topped rushes along the edge of 1st Meadow Pool. Seen from screen
Common Darter on track
Swallows were hawking everywhere today: over the pools, meadows and the 'sands'.
Bird of prey glimpsed flying away towards the screen at the end of the lonning. A tawny Owl had been heard and one also seen on the Lonning. In the evening bats were flying round the buildings in the hamlet.
Common Darters in synchronised ovipositing. Must have been the most favoured spot on this pool.
By midday a number of pairs of Common Darters were ovipositing here The hot sunny windless weather must have produced favourable conditions.
7th September - The fine weather brought out the butterflies
Speckled Wood butterfly feeding on nectar of flowers on Orchard edge, adjacent to the reserve - first and last one seen here this year.
This Painted Lady butterfly was also the first one observed in the area this year - others too were flying: Red Admirals and Peacocks, with numerous Small Tortoiseshells and Large Whites.
Peacock Butterfly on tree stump
Common Hawker (Male) had been flying up and down at the end of the lonning. It then landed on trackside vegetation for a short while thus allowing this photo to be taken. It had a wing missing!
While watching it flying we stopped in the middle of the track to talk to a friend. Whether it was that we were in the way or merely just a convenient perching place - nevertheless, it landed on Judith's arm.
A Drinker Moth - named as such because the caterpillars drink dew drops.
Two Little Egrets seen flying along the saltmarsh at Campfield. The very high tides had pushed Teal and Wigeon into the pool, and had brought a large flock of waders, mostly Oystercatchers, to roost on the saltmarsh.
14th September - evening about 6.45 pm
Two Little Egrets feeding in dubs on saltmarsh in front of North Plain Farm
Egrets in dubs
These two eventually took off in the direction of Saltmarsh Pool
Another one came flying along a bit later. A further two were to be seen flying by.
Shellduck activity too
Oystercatchers - all going in the same direction.
Buzzard being escorted away from the marsh at West Common by resident crow family
Noticeboard in North Plain farmyard
Mist rising over the Solway Estuary as night falls