Even though the rain is starting to creep back more and more regularly, we’re still enjoying a good deal of sunshine here on the Exe. The blackberries are still sprouting for anyone looking to get one last crumble in before the school term begins again. Our host of Dragonflies are still enjoying the sun and we frequently see them darting in and out of the ditches hunting small flying insects, but occasionally even these aerial monsters need a break, during which time some of our more eagle-eyed volunteers are able to grab a shot or two.
Obviously many people know about the path that runs along our reserve, known as the Turf path because when followed to the end it leads you right up to the front door of the popular Turf pub, but not so many know about the Powderham path. This path lies just on the other side of the train track and winds its way through Powderham Marsh, the most important breeding site for Lapwing in Devon & Cornwall, but also home to a small population of endangered Cirl Bunting. In recent weeks the path has become increasingly dense as the summer growth has taken over, however earlier this week the path was trimmed back making this an ideal walk in the sunshine. The fields around the path are currently bursting with sunflowers and you may get a glimpse of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, or even one of our elusive Cirls.
Over to Bowling Green Marsh, a little way past the hide there is a path that runs from the road down to a viewing platform that looks out across the estuary. This path has also been getting a little overgrown over the past few months, so earlier this week two intrepid volunteers were dispatched with brushcutters and the task of clearing the area to the left of the path up to the edge of the ditch that runs alongside. Currently almost empty, this ditch will fill up again with the return of the rain and provide habitat for many species of insects and their larvae, as well as the small mammals and birds that will feed on these.
There was something of a commotion last weekend at the hide when someone came in and announced that they’d seen a Wryneck in one of the bramble bushes further down the road. Wrynecks are relatives of woodpeckers and an exceptionally uncommon sight in this country, and feed mainly on ants and other small insects. The birds that we do see here will be passing through on migrations between Scandinavia where they breed, and Africa where they spend the cold winter months.
One of the dedicated birdwatchers who frequent the hide at Bowling Green has been on fire this past week, and we have him to thank for these photos of a Spoonbill, an annual visitor to South and East England, and a Kingfisher out on the mudflats of the estuary. Dave even managed to get some amazing video footage of the Spoonbill wrestling with an enormous fish, the link for which is just below. Hopefully we'll see some more of this majestic bird and maybe even some of his/her companions over the next few weeks.
We'll see you next week with another update.
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