Wow yesterday was amazingly sultry here on the Sands with it feeling more like Thailand than East Yorkshire with the humidity creating a steam across the marsh that in the morning tempted out a lovely party of 16 juvenile bearded tits that were feeding in the tops of the reeds at Xerox lagoon. This is the first indication of just how successful the beardies have been this year in their first and second broods and from this first showing it looks like they have had a pretty fantastic year. Late June early July is often a good time to see the juveniles so keep a good look out for them when you visit. Their distinctive call often gives them away.
Bearded tits at Xerox
The marsh harriers are also going a little crazy at the moment with the adults bringing in loads of food for their growing young, look out for the juveniles first flights which must be due any day. Some of the competition for the food between the adults is pretty amazing to watch at times with the females trying to steal prey off the males from other pairs and also at times bringing in large prey items - see below
A female trying to steal food of a male (yes I know the bird with the food looks like a female from above but from below its a male! Odd birds marsh harriers)
You can see it here the bird below is much bigger - she didn't get the food btw
Bertha bringing in what looks like an adult moorhen!
The barn owls are just amazing this year with a growing brood in the box opposite Marshland hide and the adults hunting form several pairs all over the reserve. Last night while sat in the hide at Ousefleet I could hear the hissing of the barn owl chicks while I watched a juvenile lapwing out on the mud.
The waders are certainly returning but can be a little hit and miss in part I suspect because the Marsh harriers are hunting quite a bit around the lagoons, once the weather improves and they start harvesting the peas and hay locally the harriers will start to hunt a little more away from site and allow the waders to settle a bit more. But there has been a few birds at times including some almost complete ruffed ruffs, up to seven superb summer plumage spotted redshank, redshank, lapwing, curlews (many going west but some now back on the grazing marsh), the odd visiting avocet, 2 green sandpipers, an adult black-tailed godwit, and the first snipe back on site. What was a surprise though was a very unseasonable whimbrel flying west with the curlew. Very nice to see the juvenile lapwing with very defensive adults on Ousefleet yesterday, although probably not reared on the reserve it is good to know that somewhere in the local area young lapwings are being reared.
Is this black-tailed godwit fresh in from Iceland
Still plenty of spoonbills too-ing and fro-ing over the reseserve with the odd bird being tempted down every now and then, also a few little egrets & herons about but typically the bitterns have gone quiet with the last one seen on Friday evening.
The duck are now going into moult but there are also still a few emerging broods particularly of gadwall, this duck didn't breed until the early 1970's in the UK and whatever their origins (some say they originated from released birds for shooting) they are certainly starting to overtake mallard as the most common and successful duck on site. This seems in some way related to the fact that mallards who breed early seem to suffer from cold and wet springs.
Gadwall brood on Marshland
The first teal have also returned alongside a few male wigeon. Also good to see the mute swan chicks doing really well - was Fred genes the reason as to why his chicks never did very well and the change over in pairs will mean they will have more success?
Mute swan chicks
Certainly the year is now moving on with the mid-summer solstice over and yesterday the first grey wagtail of the year over south! Also plenty of Cettis warblers around site and the sedge and reed warblers feeding young and singing ready for their second broods. Tree sparrows too are going crazy but as usual there has been the movement of pairs to the boxes in the scrub and on the hides and away from the car park.
Sedge warbler singing
Also interesting the last couple of weeks to see parties of starlings moving west, where are they coming from and going to?
Here's a few that were trying to roost on site
Roe deer and their young have been putting on a good show and when the sun shines there has been a few butterflies particularly a good showing of painted ladies but now a few meadow browns common blues and large skippers. Also a few azure damselflies, four spotted chasers and still the odd hairy dragonfly. The red eyed damsel flies turned out to be the large red eyed rather than the small, but still a new record for the reserve.
Four spotted chaser
Looking forward to my visit on Saturday.
24th there was also a short eared owl that came onto site around 8pm,got a couple pictures but was a long way off.
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