I was asked a question today that was perhaps only part in jest: "Where's the big screen on the Scrape?" The reply from one of our volunteers was "how many birds watch football?" My reply to that, looking at huge picture of a robin in the reception area was "Robinho for one!"
OK, so perhaps that was a poor attempt at humour, but there is a serious point here. Some of us are having to miss the football today, being stuck in the office instead. It may be better for the nerves. However, given the choice, I'd probably be missing it today anyway and taking advantage of this superb weather by pottering around Minsmere, where there's more guarantee of some serious action, lots of winners and losers, and none of the stress of watching Messrs Rooney, Gerrard and Co kicking sperhical objects around a park in South Africa.
I did manage a quick stroll to South Hide at lunchtime to watch terns. There were good numbers of Sandwich and common terns, and about eight litlte terns, giving an excellent opportunity to compare the contrasting sizes of these three species. Although I couldn't find one myself, an arctic tern was reported at East hide this morning, but there's been no sightngs of the roseate tern today.
Also at South Hide were two ringed plovers, four oystercatchers, two black-tailed godwits and several lapwings. Encouragingly, several avocet chicks are very close to fledging on the Scrape. The ducks on the Scrape (mallard, gadwall, shoveler) are looking increasingly scruffy as they moult into their summer eclipse plumage, losing all their glorious colours in the process.
Strolling back to the office, a bittern gave a superb fly past, straight over the Scrape and heading towards North Marsh. Clearly a nest of hungry chicks to feed there. Althoguh I ddin't see any, nine spoonbills were reported this morning. They seem to be favouring the Levels. It's interesting that numbers are increasing here this year, rather than on Havergate Island, which is usually the best place to see them.
Two red kites were reported flying north over Island Mere at lunch time. They appeared to have a little battle with three resident marsh harriers. Kestrels and hobbies remain on show over the reedbed too.
The warm weather is tempting more insects onto the wing. I swa my first black-tailed skimmers today, along with four-spotted chasers and several common blue damselflies. There was a cinnabar moth near the visitor centre. As well as the impressive display of southern marsh orchids, yellow rattle, yellow flag and ragged-robin at North Hide, a large spike of common spotted orchid is flowering near West Hide and the car park verges have turned yellow with biting stonecrop in flower.