A couple of really good birds over the reserve this weekend with a female Red-crested Pochard on Aveley Pool being the rarest as it was actually the very first for the reserve. The Spotted Crake was seen again and a Little Stint, Hobbies and Spotted Flycatchers made for interesting birding.
However prize bird goes to the Long-eared Owl that David Smith found this morning being mobbed by a Lesser Whitethroat.
It showed quite well in a hawthorn in the woodland till about 1130 before shuffling further in and out of view. Long-eared Owls breed fairly close to the reserve and given the early date it is quite likely that this bird is a wandering local juvenile rather than an early continental immigrant.
Great shots by Bob Cooper and David Dent
I arrived early and despite being dog tired I persuaded my tired body that a walk in the sunshine would be better than a coffee and kip.
I was rewarded within just a few minutes with the buzzing ‘dzeeep’ of not one but three Tree Pipits. Normally and overhead Autumn migrant, it is unusual to see them on the deck here but here was I watching a trio on the barb wire fence at the bottom of the exit ramp. One even stayed long enough for me to get a few snaps before it dropped off into the grass.
It was quite still and I headed for the cordite via the Adventure Playground. It was sheltered in here and as hoped there were a few bird in the hawthorn hedge in the sun. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a smart little Lesser Whitethroat gleaned insects from the leaves and I had to watch my step for Wasp Spider webs!
Inside the loop it was much warmer and although there were few birds it was full on insects with the sun drenched white Bud at the end being a hothouse of activity. Migrant Hawkers were hanging up all over it with those warm enough for flight, making early hunting sorties. Countless Face Flies (Musca autumnalis) ‘roosted’ on leaves with a couple of bully boy Noon Days (Mesembrina meridiana) and a wonderful yellow and black hoverfly by the groovy name of Chrysotoxum festivum. Red Admiral, both ‘small’ Whites, Comma and Speckled Wood jostled for position.
Some Woodpigeons erupted from the Horse Chestnuts and a dislodged conker disturbed a cloud of about 40 Migrant Hawkers on its swift decent. More hawkers were holding territories along the boardwalk and the juvenile Marsh Harrier was already quartering the pools where Avocet, Dunlin, our first Curlew Sandpiper of the year and both Ringed Plovers could be seen. There was no sign of yesterdays juvenile Black Tern.
The Chicory was just 'waking up' and the first Honey Bees were expectantly waiting...
At the Dragonfly Pool I got bogged out by a Marsh Frog and three Bearded Tits pinged from the reeds as the Marsh Harrier made another sortie over the rifle butts. Two Whinchats were by the Anthill feeding loosely with some Linnets while six Yellow Wagtail danced around the feet of the cattle in the Ouzel Fields.
Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the Bay with over 200 Teal and quite a few Common Terns out over the river. So not a bad start for a late August morning...
More was to come later on....
Our summer kids events have been very well attended and yesterday two kids who had been on the craft session came back in and presented me with two distinctly different species of crafty caterpillars...
As for which species of moth they will become..... who knows?!
Funky cats by Josiah (3) and Imani Mills (9).... great stuff!