Monday, 4 July 2016

Summer on the grasslands

Lade - warm, dry and sunny - 0600-1100hrs - A simply stunning summer morning with bright blue skies and a light zephyr. After quickly clearing the moth trap (15 species, White-point new for the year) we headed out for a wander, ostensibly to carry out our breeding bird survey, but I was soon distracted. I know I keep yarning on about the fabulous grassland spectacle down here, but due to  the light airs and warm sunshine it was even better than usual with large numbers of the butterflies  basking, feeding, mating and on the wing. Skippers were particularly abundant, as were Small Coppers and Marbled Whites, plus plenty of damselflies and day-flying Cinnabars and Silver Y moths.    
  One of these summers when I get a bit more time I really must survey the plants hereabouts, along the old railway line track, but for now I`ll just enjoy them. I remember my old granddad telling me about the wild flowers in the English countryside during the first half of the last century, before the chemical-soaked wastelands we have today. He would have revelled in this display of nature for sure.

                                Great Luttuce 6` in height and in full flower

                               Marbled White on bugloss, the prince of the grassland butterflies

                                            A fine spray of White Melilot

                                Small Coppers were everywhere

  However, back to the birds and it was perfect surveying weather with many species confirmed breeding and feeding young including Linnet, Mipit, Skylark, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Reed Bunting, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker.
  There were hundreds of young Jackdaws, Starlings and House Sparrows feeding on the shingle ridges. Despite spending almost five hours on site there was no sign or sound of the local Cuckoos, so maybe they cleared out last night in a clear, starlit sky, perfect for nocturnal migration.
  Around south lake the Little Egret count topped out at eight, a few Swifts screamed high up in the ether, a Hobby zipped over scattering the Starlings, distant Marsh Harriers and Buzzards thermaled skywards, the plaintive call of a Grey Plover drifted over from the bay and as we headed home for breakfast a straggle of Curlews flew to roost on the stones.

                                Cock Linnet watching over juvs in bramble thicket

                                Juv Kestrel being teased by Starlings

                               Grebes aplenty around the reed beds

RSPB - A scan of Burrowes this afternoon from the VC yielded all the usual eclipse wildfowl, gulls and terns, plus only my second Little Ringed Plover of the year along with two Ringed Plovers and a Redshank. Two Hobbies were noted along the access road.
  Earlier, a Glossy Ibis was seen flying over Cook`s Pool, Boulderwall by MH.

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