Across first Meadow Pool.
The Lonning towards the hide.
Second Meadow Pool.
Nosy guest cattle.
Pied Wagtail with Cranefly.
Reed Bunting on Lonning hedgerow.
Sandhills towards the Solway.
Sedge Warbler - Black and White sketch.
Sedge Warbler in colour.
Skiddaw from Whitrigg Marsh.
Stonechat on Bowness Common - a sketch.
Swallow catching the last of the sun's rays.
Tawny Owl up in the barn rafters, under the skylight.
Towards the hide across the wetland.
Sketch of the Wampool estuary.
Water Lily pool from the boardwalk.
Glade in birch woodland - on the path to the Moss.
Not a great deal happening from the hide at midday. Birds were generally quiet: a few Larks, Herons, Crows and spiralling Sparrowhawk.
Then from the far Moss, a grey bird appeared coming straight towards the hide. We initially took it to be a Heron but it soon resolved itself to be a Hen Harrier. It eventually passed within a hundred yards of the hide whilst quartering the wetland … and became clearly identifiable as a male. The whole incident seemed a bit unusual for this time of the year as this was a mature bird and there had been no previous regular sightings of either male or female activity over the past few months.
This bird dropped quickly into deep reeds and meadow grass on two occasions - each time staying for a few minutes - but on rising clearly had no prey. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that it was hunting to feed itself and not young. The Harrier was harassed by a Carrion Crow (which was nesting nearby) for a while before it returned passed the hide and disappeared into the distance.
Judith managed to get some reasonable record shots over the twenty minutes of its activity.
Early June - Summer has officially arrived … monsoons of rain; tornados of wind; flooding that would frighten even Noah; caravans and tents being swept away; agricultural shows being flattened; seaside promenades under three feet of water and lashed by waves. Hello! but we don’t mind, we’re British - we have to get on with it! Birds and animals have to do this all the time and very successful they are, too.
We walked out onto the Reserve early yesterday morning, after a day and night of more or less solid rain - the sun just beginning to break through and the wind having dropped. The air was humid. Through the farm buildings and along the Lonning, all the birds were singing, drinking, and bathing in the puddles would you believe! - preening their soaking feathers in the early morning sun. Even the Moorhens and Grebe were spending their time preening and rearranging their feathers - Wagtails and Swallows catching the early rise of insects.
The wetlands from the hide were a spectacular sight: buttercups, reeds and rushes … have never seen the place look so green with foliage! The calls of the Lapwings routinely chasing Crows and Black-headed Gulls which were intent on mobbing the Herons. Small parties of Teal and Mallard doing ‘circuits and bumps’ just for the sheer joy of it.
It brought to mind Wordworth’s wonderful lines:
"A ‘Birder’ could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company"
- I think, or something like that anyway! … and it would be much the same at Ullswater this morning, which isn’t far from here. Although there is some debate as to whether he wrote this about Ullswater or Rydal - we may never know!
But these birders were much too busy to speculate on such matters. What with Judith swinging the big lens into action at every movement in the hedgerows. How could we not wish to record such a wonderful morning after a night of storms - and pass on to you all the good news from Campfield.
We hope the photographs speak for themselves!
Singing male Chaffinch
Rather wet-looking Robin.
But nevermind, there was obviously an abundance of food with which to feed its young.
Another cheery male - this time a Dunnock.
Male Reed Bunting.
A rather silent and twitchy Whitethroat.
Very wet Tree Sparrow - possibly after a morning bath!
One of a pair of Bullfinch seen picking amongst the vegetation on the track.
Hare amongst lush meadow herbage.
Inquisitive calf - guest flock.
Pied Wagtail pair on farm buildings.
. . . taking advantage of the plentiful supply of flying insects.
Swallow with nesting material.
Roe Deer on mudflats.
Stag surveying the saltmarsh.
This Spring and early Summer have been a real mixed bag - especially this last week! One minute, glorious sunshine and the next torrential rain and bitter winds. One hardly knows what to do! Have turned into a softie really - should have taken it easier on the cupcakes, blue icing and party sized Eton Mess - am just trying to pluck up courage to venture forth onto the Reserve. Heavens, if those brave young choristers can stand on the upper deck of a barge, lashed by torrents of rain and Arctic wind, singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ for hours, then surely, I can manage a quick walk down the Lonning to see how the wetlands are faring - even if it’s only from the shelter of the hide! … perhaps though, I might take a small turkey sandwich with me for comfort.
This Spring seems to have brought strange results with nesting birds: small broods or failed nests - what with the wind and flooding. The Little Grebe appeared to have raised two chicks, a Moorhen we have been watching on the farm pond seems to have produced one chick - but what with the sudden flooding and the presence of Black-headed Gulls, the final picture for nesting Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew and other waders has yet to be painted. Damselflies and Bumblebees seem to be much in evidence though, on the abundant vegetation.
Out on the estuary, quite large numbers of Shelduck, Curlew and Oystercatchers are assembled. Hard to draw conclusions from these: they might be non- breeders or failed breeders. There may be a few young amongst them. Plenty of Mallard about too! A small party of Bar-tailed Godwit (10) stayed with us, resting and feeding on the tideline for an evening on 26th May, whilst on passage.
The garden and orchard here on the edge of the Reserve has been giving us a bit of interest this last week: 4 Bullfinches turning up - one female with three males; a family of Long-tailed tits; a family of Greenfinches and Jackdaws and also Tree Sparrows with two fledglings. Our resident Crows seemed to have produced successfully once again and two Magpies seem to be somewhat busy indicating a successful brood somewhere.
It is with great pleasure we would wish to announce the arrival of one young Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by both parents yesterday from the peanut hanger.
Warblers on the Lonning seem to have generally become silent and can be seen with beaks full of caterpillars - so there are grounds for optimism here.
So if there are failed broods, the Summer is yet young! Though I would add a cautionary note here - we are only a fortnight away from the Summer Solstice - which might be fine for the Druids but for we ordinary mortals, it indicates the onset of Winter and failing light … perhaps I will have that extra slice of chocolate cake after all, to build up my fat reserves.
Stop Press: As we speak a second Great Spotted Woodpecker fledgling put in an appearance this morning.
Swallows in plenty round North Plain farm buildings.
Curlew numbers are increasing along the tideline.
Female Redpoll on nyger seed feeder in hamlet
21st May 2012
Wall butterfly on Lonning trackside vegetation
Cheviot and Swaledale tups brought in from Hawswater for lowland pasture grazing.
Wren basking on hot stones
Male Siskin feeding on peanuts in West Common garden.
Part of a small flock (10) of Bar-tailed Godwit at Scargavel Point.
Shelduck and Black-headed Gulls enjoying the evening sun - channel as the tide comes in.
Gulls and Shelduck basking on dried out 'sand' at high tide.
Shelduck flying across the flats
Meadow Pipit on marshside hawthorn.
Male Chiffchaff still singing loudly at the entrance to the Lonning.
Female Blue-tailed damselfly on 'Natterjack' Pool rushes. - form violacea
Female Azure Damselfly on poolside vegetation
Male Common Blue Damselfly.
Oystercatcher flyby. Good numbers now along the estuary.
A small group of five Ringed Plover and two Dunlin (in summer plumage) flew in onto the tideline, late evening.
Some of the 90 Shelduck frequenting the channel area as the tiide comes in.
Curlew numbers increased to over a hundred today.
Juvenile Long-tailed Tit - one of a family party seen on marshside trees.
A party of four Bullfinch descended on the bird feeding station in the hamlet. Here are a female with two males.
Our Scottish cousins across the estuary celebrating the Jubilee.
A Moorhen wanders into the garden from the Reserve regularly, to feed under the bird hangers . It then climbs into a tree to preen.
One of a number of Grey Heron which frequent the marsh and wetlands. This one was flying over the saltmarsh.
Chiffchaff on Lonning hedge - feeding young.
It seems to have already been a good year for Bumble bees with a number of different types reported on the Reserve.
Yellow Flag starting to flower around Meadow Pools.
The spectacle that is the flowering buttercup meadows of North Plain Farm.
Recently fledged juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker patiently waiting for food.
Food at last.
Tree Sparrow fledgling success too.
A second Great Spotted Woodpecker fledgling put in a brief appearance this morning.
Recent Sightings - Reserve Noticeboard