Various waders still present/passing through in the last two days include greenshank, ruff, common sandpiper, snipe, dunlin, ringed plover, little ringed plover, green sandpiper, and of course lapwing. Wood sandpiper (see photo, thanks Graham) seen yesterday, though not reported today up to 4pm. Two wigeon in amongst the teal and mallard are a hint of what is to come, and a single garganey was found on the north brooks over the weekend. Around the trail this morning at least 2 redstarts, several willow warblers, whitethroats, blackcaps and chiffchaffs. Spotted flycatchers, whinchats and yellow wagtails seen around the site in the last few days. Black pond still really good for emerald damselflies, and this afternoon there were numerous migrant hawkers on the wing on the edge of the heath.
At least one marsh harrier continues to appear on a daily basis - it's plain dark-brown plumage topped with fantastic creamy-yellow/orange head marks it out as a juvenile. I managed to take a distant photo of it whilst it stopped to talk to one of the local herons. Passage waders in the last 2 days include 8 black-tailed godwits, several green sandpipers, common sandpiper, at least 3 each of ringed and little ringed plovers, up to 5 greenshank, 2 curlew and 2 whimbrel. The spotted redshank that has been around recently seem so have moved on. Snipe are feeding out in the open in good numbers on the north brooks either early in the morning or towards dusk. Redstarts (on the hedge nr Winpenny hide), wheatears (on the brooks), willow warblers and chiffchaffs (all over!) represent movements of migrant songbirds through the site. This week has also seen one or two yellow wagtails passing through. Brown hairstreak butterflies still on the wing - one was seen today on the path down to Nettley's hide.
Decent selection of passage waders now arriving on the brooks - greenshank, spotted redshank (thanks to Graham for photo), little ringed plover, snipe, green sandpiper, common sandpiper and black-tailed godwit present today. There were 2 or 3 garganey amongst the flocks of mallard and teal on the north brooks and up to 3 juvenile marsh harriers (inc. one wing-tagged individual) were hunting widely across the brooks. 2 redstarts were along the trail between winpenny and west mead hide.
The warm weather this week has meant that the grassy verges around the site have been humming with insect life. Lots of butterflies (brown hairstreaks, gatekeepers, meadow browns, small coppers, whites, red admirals, common blue etc), and of course grasshoppers and crickets. Below is a speckled bush cricket that I found on the heath yesterday.
The wood sandpiper was seen again on the north brooks today, plus a couple of black-tailed godwits. Duck and geese number are slowly building with ca.350 mallard on the north brooks, a few teal and shoveler and at least one (very early) wigeon. Birds of prey of the last few days have included a flyover osprey on a couple of occasions, buzzards, hobby and red kite. A few willow warblers, blackcaps and other migrants are starting to appear in the hedges/scrub suggesting a bit of autumn passage.
The black pond was great for various dragonflies and damselflies again today - black darters can be found there amongst several commoner species. I managed to find a single small red damselfly.There was also an impressive grass snake (I guessed about 80cm long) with a conspicuous bump in its middle in the edge of a pond on the heath. It was lurking in the shallow water, and despite grass snakes apparently being one of the wariest and least approachable creatures in the universe, it allowed me within about 2m before swimming off rather slowly. Perhaps it was too full to go very fast, or it was worried it might sink.
The heath threw up another surprise last week when Ben Rainbow and I found small red damselfly on one of the boogy pools. Just shows what can turn up if you create the right habitat...
Elsewhere on site, the marsh harrier was seen again and the wood sandpiper was again present on the north brooks.