The last week or so has seen a steady stream of migrating birds stopping off at the nature reserve to rest and refuel - treating us like a service station on their long southwards journey.
I was out and about yesterday morning leading a 'Birding for Beginners' session, introducing migration and some of the birds that we see here at this time of year. At the new (and as of yet un-named) viewpoint above Jupp's View we were able to test out our new-found skills on a couple of Green Sandpipers and admire several Snipe who were feeding out in the open. I normally think of Snipe as being one of the trickiest birds to see as they are often hunkered up in the grasses and rushes at the edges of the pools but, at this time of year, they do seem to be more showy (Great news!)
Around to Hanger for a slightly different angle and we admired the Lapwing, spotted a single Black-Tailed Godwit busily feeding in the deeper water and even more Snipe. The final total for the day was 20! One of our volunteers, John, then found us another of our 'target' species for the morning - a Whinchat - perched obligingly on top of the brambles at the bottom of Hanger slope. A male and female Kestrel performed beautifully, sat atop adjacent fenceposts before flying overhead.
Kestrel by Chris Prince
It was then time to look along the hedgerows near Adder Alley. The favoured spot was the eastern side of the hedge running from Redstart Corner towards Little Hanger Hide. There was plenty of activity with birds popping in and out of the bramble & hawthorn, perching on fenceposts and wires. We found 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 female Redstart and a smart Lesser Whitethroat alongside Robins, Blue tits and Greenfinch. A final treat as we started to head back was a dashing Hobby.
After I'd finished for the morning, the sightings continued with wheatear being added to the list and volunteer Andy managed to photograph both the Spotted Flycatcher
And the Redstart
Thanks to Andy Ashdown for the photos.
The sightings continued today (Sunday) with reports of Garden Warbler having joined the posse of Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat around the Adder Alley hedgerows. Up to 10 Wheatear have been seen with 3 reported from West Mead this morning and 6 or 7 seen from Hanger View a little later in the day. 2 or 3 Whinchats were also spotted.
The waders are concentrated on the North Brooks (there is precious little water left on the southern part of the site) with 16+ Snipe, 4 Green Sandpipers & 1 Dunlin reported.
There are also plenty of invertebrates enjoying the sunshine - the Fleabane on the zig zag path is popular with Painted Ladies, Brown Hairstreak butterflies have been seen (but are often elusive) and there are lots of migrant hawker dragonflies on patrol. Perhaps our star turn this week has been a magnificent female Wasp Spider who had spun her web in the long vegetation along the zig zag path.
This lovely photo of a Painted Lady was taken by Terry Hollands
This Wasp Spider was photographed by volunteer Chris Prince
You've also a chance of seeing reptiles - common lizards could be spotted basking on fences or logs and you may even come across young adders (one was seen crossing the path just outside the Visitor Centre earlier this week). Adders give birth to live young in August and we've seen several brand new additions to our Adder ID Gallery in the last week or so. We've also seen baby Slow Worms and Grass Snakes so can confirm that all 4 of our reptile species have bred successfully this year.
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