Saturday, 25 June 2011

Friday 24th June 2011 - Afternoon

14:00 > 16:00
Broken cloud, westerly wind, 20c.

Having not walked the complete perimeter for a few weeks now I took a couple of hours out to do the complete circuit from aquaduct to viaduct and back.

First been seen, or rather heard was a Little Owl, no doubt one of yesterdays pair, in the hedgerow leading down to the water behind the farm.

Waterside I counted nine Little Ringed Plovers of various ages whilst Yellow Wagtials continue to expand their range post breeding with birds seen feeding on the cut grass areas alongside the River Ouse.

Also along the Ouse a pair of Common Tern continue to fish and for any of you photographers wanting close up shots they are hovering aboves pools just a matter of feet away from the path.

And talking of fishing also along the river the first Kingfisher I've seen in a while since the bank and tree clearance in the Kingfisher 'hot spot' of the last few summers. The bird came off the closed off area of the river so maybe one of the pairs nearer the railway is heading west for a bit more peace and quiet.

And in reverse a Treecreeper, a bird that numerous at the western end but all but missing in the east was seen just by the viaduct itself. Also in this area the multitude of Sand Martin coming off the gravel working to hunt and drink along the river.

Others birds of note, a pair of Common Buzzard, the Great Crested Grebe and three Little Egret including one in the river.

Given the weather insect activity has been slow on the uptake this year but a noticable increase in numbers of the commoner butterfly species and dragon and damselfly was noted today.

Last word though goes to a crustacean and a dead one at that. The American Crawdaddy or Signal Crayfish to you and me. I've seen live 'crawdads' further upstream around Stratford and have viewed people trying to catch them to the eastern end of the site, with little success, but the first definite proof i've encountered were the remains found along Back Brook, see pic above.

Whatever had it for lunch seemed to know its business, leaving the sharps bits on the bank while the fleshy body was nowhere to be seen (you'd like to think Otter but who knows). The claws were around an inch or so long on their own so it gives you an idea of the size these pests are getting up to. One down, a few hundred thousand countrywide to go but at least at Manor Farm they seem to have a predator.

And a tip for you. Having left my camera at home on Friday I wrapped the claws in a bag and put them in my rucksack to photograph at home. Not advisable on a warm day. The stink on opening was rich to say the least. Dead shellfish and sun, don't mix...

Wednesday 22nd June 2011 - Evening

An increasing prickly problem...

17:30 > 18:30
Sun after showers, SW wind, 20c.

An evening stroll around the site and still much to see. A third pair of Little Ringed Plover now have young whilst a fourth Lapwing family can also be seen. All viewed from the riverside walk along the Ouse but views from this path are few and far between now as the thistles are growing like wildfire along the area between the river and the main body of water, some up over seven feet already. Whilst no doubt they will atrract butterflies a plenty as they did last year, the views could all but disappear before summer is out on this side.

Still plenty to see from the southern banks though. A pair of Oystercatcher still remain as do the Common Terns but its was herons who stole the show today, alongside what looked like a family party of five Little Egret were nine Grey Heron including a handful of gawky gangly juveniles.

Out on the water Tufted Ducks with chicks and the Great Crested Grebe pair continue to doze with little or no effort to do much else it seems.

Away from the water a Hobby put a late sortee through the site, sending the numerous Sand and House Martins in all directions while up on the slopes a few Yellow Wagtails have started to appear in evenings again.

And finally around the farm building a pair of lively Little Owl could be seen as I headed off home.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Tuesday 14th June 2011 - Evening

17:30 > 18:30
Sunny, warm, SW breeze, 22c.

A midweek visit in hope rather than expectation but suprisingly quite a lot going on at the site.

A pair of Common Redshank are new arrivals but its the 'long stayers' that are the main attraction still. Two Little Ringed Plover families can now be found along the shoreline. One pair with every growing young catching up with their parents while a second have a couple of the 'fluffy golf balls' running about.

Not to be outdone a second Yellow Wagtail family with young looks like being joined by a third as adults were seen taking food into into the vegatation. A combination of the right habitat arriving just as the multitude of Yellowags arrived this year has tempted a few to stay with the desired result.

The two Lapwing broods continue to do well and given the aerial bombardment any visiting crows get I suspect there are other unseen families about the site.

The crows were not the only predators looking for an easy lunch as a female Sparrowhawk flew over an unaccesible part of the site finding itself being mobbed by around one eighty Sand Martins, suggesting there is quite a colony building up following on from the small first time community last year.

Elswhere the Great Crested Grebe pair remain while four Little Egret and three squabbling Oystercatcher were later arrivals. The pair of Common Tern dozed on the end of the spit and look unlikely to be bringing any new life into the world this year.

Common Whitethroat were seen along the thistle banking with food which suggests another breeding success capped a good evenings birding.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Thursday 9th June 2011 - Evening

18:00 > 18:30
Cloud, odd sun break, west breeze and a coolish 16c.

A quick visit and not too much to report re visitors but another breeding success in Little Ringed Plover with two young, the third year in a row the species has bred on site. Not only that but second broods of Lapwing and Yellow Wagtail were also seen whilst our on the water a pair of Canada Geese has six goslings in tow.

Apart from the little breeders though nothing else reallof not bar a lone Little Egret.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thursday 2nd June 2011 - Evening

17:30 to 18:00
Sunny, warm but with light NE breeze, 22c.

June is definitely here and not just temperature wise as the site slows down for its summer slumber. Not too much to report. The Yellow Wagtail family dip in and out of the vegatation at times whilst a second pair appear more active now (watch this space). The first Lapwing brood appear to have got over the attention of the corvids and all three are now a fair size.

Little Ringed Plovers can still be found on site and a pair of Common Terns continue to hang about as do the displaying pair of Great Created Grebe and a couple of Little Egret.

With water levels going down House Martins are making good use of the wet mud for nesting (the colony in the middle of Wolverton is building up well) with numerous birds dropping in and out, their cousins the Sand Martins continue to mass over the gravel workings and are no doubt busy procreating at an unseen and unaccessible part of the site as they did last year. An odd Swallow or two continue to hunt low over what is left of the meadow while numerous Swift continue north overhead.

A single drake Teal is a new arrival (or very good at hiding) while a pair of Gadwall and half a dozen Tufted Duck can still be found. At least three Mallard broods have been successful with quite a few ducklings already catching up with their parents in size, what a difference from last year when due to a lack of water it was a real struggle.

On leaving one of the Little Owls was flitting about along the Ridge.