Hello once again. I’m back with another update from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood.

As we move towards summer, the moor gets more and more glorious. The grass is getting longer, many fields are carpets of yellow and white flowers, there is a constant serenade of birdsong, with skylarks, sedge warblers, reed buntings and many others all adding to the tune. There are colourful dragonflies and butterflies everywhere, in vibrant reds, blues and greens. We had a new dragonfly recorded at Greylake by site manager Harry - a scarce chaser. This doesn't mean they haven't been there before, just that this is the first we are aware of. I also spotted one in the field opposite the farm, so the species is defying its name and becoming more common. (Sorry I didn't manage to get a picture.)

I took some pictures from the west end of the moor looking east on Friday morning, which gives you just a hint of how wonderful it is out there, but can’t really capture it fully.

With some slight changes to lockdown restrictions, I hope you are all taking the chance to enjoy what our countryside has to offer (safely of course). I know many of you will be wanting to come and visit our reserves once more but unfortunately they do remain closed for now. We can’t open until we are sure that it is safe for our visitors, staff and wildlife to do so. We are very much looking forward to the day we can throw open the gates again and will update the website and social media with any changes.

All the nests here at the farm seem to be going well. I’m updating social media with regular swallow videos for those that haven’t seen them, on the Ham Wall facebook and twitter pages. The chicks are growing fast but still have a way to go before fledging. I took these still frames from the camera footage on Friday.

  The chicks are still mostly beak

  There are definitely five chicks, at least. You can see here two beaks on the right side of the nest.

  And a split second later, three beaks on the right. I haven't managed to capture them all in one image yet, and there could still be another one hiding in there somewhere, but five is a good number. Fingers crossed they all make it.

There is a great deal of noise from both the blue tit and great tit nests, and Ashley reported that he could also hear the pied wagtail nest from inside the boiler room. I expect that by next week, I could be reporting that at least some of these chicks have fledged as they are clearly very active now.

I left the camera out on the kestrel/owl box for a full three days to see what turned up. The barn owl made another appearance one night but otherwise there was nothing. I have brought that camera in as it seems a slight waste of time/batteries to keep it running. If there is any indication of the box being used, I can put it back out but I would have expected the kestrels and barn owls to be nesting by now, so they have probably chosen other nest sites this year.

I’ve spent some time this week at various vantage points trying to get an idea of what the cranes are doing. It’s important that we know where they might be nesting so we can avoid disturbing them or grazing cattle too close by. It can be hard to find them when they’re spread out nesting but I’ve had some success. There are at least two pairs with small chick(s) and another still nesting, probably a second attempt. Another two pairs appear to have failed this year as I’ve seen both adults together with no evidence of any chicks. We believe a pair are also nesting at Greylake but I’m not sure how they’re getting on.

Well that’s all the news for this week. Keep an eye out for more swallow cam updates on social media.

 

Kathryn

 

P.S. All photos taken by me at home, on exercise or during essential work (or on camera traps)

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