It really is that time of year again when all the birds are in full breeding season flow as the early breeders fledge young and others are getting ready to hatch theirs. It seems that migration is subdued as the season of bountiful plenty dominates on the reserve with this morning an amazing three male bitterns on site, one boomer and two that seemed intent in following each other around in a sort of Mexican stand off.
Here's a few shots of what I suspect are the young males
Equally as nice a sight was the brood of 5 young mute swans on Singleton, very possibly now a new pair with seemingly King Fred our mute swan that was present for over 20 years deposed. Great to see plenty of Marsh harrier activity with many of the males bringing in food supplies and a distant view of our female Montagu's harrier this morning. Don't expect to see her easily as this year she's deciding to favour areas of the reedbed well away from the hides.
Marsh harrier food pass
What was nice though this morning was a barn owl carrying a very large vole near to the hides, hopefully they will rear a few young this year as it seems to be quite a good vole year.
With so much calm and dry weather the bearded tits seem to be having a productive year with many adults still whizzing across the tops of the reeds as they fly too and from their growing young, look carefully across the tops of the reeds and if you are in luck they may fly into the edges of the lagoons especially near to first lagoon.
Our little avocet colony at Townend are now hatching young as are the Black-headed gulls on Marshland, always nice to see a few young birds across the marsh, for me the clamour of the marsh is what wetlands are all about at this time of year.
Avocet with chick
Not much wader passage now particularly with Ousefleet flash drying out, this is a natural process and varies from year to year in when it drys, we don't have any way of inputting water onto this shallow pool so when it dries it dries, but when it does it grows lots of annual weeds that are perfect for feeding the duck in autumn and winter. There are a few waders though with some late snipe and a very late curlew plus a few displaying lapwings. There's still time to get something interesting though so keep a look out for the late passage waders like red-necked phalarope.
Plenty of reedbed passerines are singing and displaying around site especially sedge and reed warblers but also around the bushes Cettis warblers, whitethroats, blackcaps and reed buntings, the tree sparrows are busy raising young and it was very nice to see two fledged song thrushes, a species that is seemingly having a better than average breeding season on the reserve this year.
Some nice insects emerging in this lovely sunshine particularly hairy dragonflies and a few four-spotted chasers, good too to see a few butterflies including a few common blues.
Hairy dragonfly having a snack
A big hairy caterpillar
The Horseshoe meadow is coming along nicely too with the grass growth not too rampant this year and the wild flowers having plenty of space to grow, including plenty of yellow rattle which is a hemiparisite, that is it parasites grass and sometimes vetches to get its nutrients. A very nice mix of colour though with ragged robin, red clover, buttercup, ox eye daisy and interestingly plenty of Wild Clary which is a lovely purple colour - a member of the sage family it was used to bathe sore eyes.
Yellow hay rattle - they say when the reed pods rattle the hay is ready to cut. It unusual in that its an annual plant unlike most meadow flowers
Greater goats beard - look for it along the bank up to Ousefleet hide
Wild clary - interesting to see this in the meadows in Poland recently
Red clover attracts the bees
And the ragged robin is becoming a little ragged as it fades
Also very nice to have this lovely hare bounding towards me the other morning.
Nice cuckoo today, mallard broods emerging, greenshank also new so still a bit of late spring migration.
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