Friday, 9 August 2013

9th August

Amidst the summer-y sight of recently fledged birds and massed insects, there was faint but distinct hint of autumn on the Avalon Marshes today in the form of a Pintail, the first i've seen here since April, forming the vanguard of our huge flocks of wintering wildfowl. A pair of Garganey alongside it at the 2nd viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB were much more seasonal, and Greenshank and 2 Green Sandpipers were standard for early wader passage.

Young Little Grebe
A few Great White Egrets were scattered around various locations, these two birds both showing just a small back bill tip as remnants of breeding plumage

Dragonflies seem to be doing as well as the butterflies this year, with several different species patrolling the edges of paths and ditches.
Black-tailed Skimmer
Southern Hawker

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

7th August: Mid-summer Update

After a bit of time away, I'm back on the Avalon Marshes for a short while. I've spent most of the past month working elsewhere, but also found time for a visit to the fantastic Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire, you can see some pictures on my other blog.

I was greeted with some truly excellent news on my return. The birds here have had an outstanding breeding season. 2 recently fledged Great White Egret juveniles have been seen at Shapwick Heath NNR, and earlier this week, 2 Little Bittern juveniles were seen at Ham Wall RSPB, and there are A LOT of juvenile Marsh Harriers about, with a final count hopefully available soon!

In the last few days on the marshes i've seen plenty of young Reed Warblers, Coots, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Grey Herons etc. etc. so it seems as though our commoner species have done well too, which is a great relief after a few poor years recently thanks to wet weather.

As for migrants, the 2nd viewing platform at Ham Wall is the place to be, with Green Sandpipers, Greenshank, Ruff and Dunlin all present on-and-off, though sometimes difficult to pick out behind vegetation. Wader numbers should slowly rise over the the coming weeks, hopefully the rain will hold off to leave some mud for them to feed on.

Insects seem to be doing well too, numbers of damselflies and Four-spotted Chasers are down from when I left, but this is to be expected as their flight-season closes, but they have been replaced with many Brown and Southern Hawkers. Butterflies are back in force too after last years dismal showing. Small Tortoiseshells are swarming over seemingly every thistle, buddliea and comfrey flower I see, and yesterday on Ham Wall I saw my first Silver-washed Fritillary and Clouded Yellow of the year.
One of many juvenile Marsh Harriers

Silver-washed Fritillary

Brown Hawker
Unfortunately after this week, i'm going to be away again for some time, mostly for rather boring work, but also what promises to be a fantastic 5 weeks in the Middle East (which i'll reveal more about at the time). I'll be back on the Avalon Marshes towards the end of Autumn though, and am very much looking forward to leading walks and tours over the winter. The marshes in winter are absolutely brim-full of waders, wildfowl and raptors, not to mention the Starlings, check back here for all the latest news!