Another Day, Another Drama

There was patchy rain around at early doors. When at 0630 the three of us arrived from our respective but different journeys, Andy said he drove through a few showers, Bryan experienced the same, but my journey had been rain free. At Oakenclough all…

Swift Departure and Recent Sightings…

 I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had a mixed week weather-wise! Some days have been very pleasant and mild while others have blighted us with persistent rain. In fact the water levels have risen so dramatically that the wardening team have had to postpone some major management work out in the reedbed. Hopefully we’ll get enough dry days in the near future to see the levels drop and we’ll be able to reinstate the postponed jobs. Also, as the pools recede it will provide some enticing muddy edges for waders such as snipe, black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper and redshank to drop onto, often providing a late summer spectacle from the hides. 

Talking of spectacles, the past week has seen significant numbers of swifts feeding around the reserve. On some days flocks of several hundred could be see as they swept over the reedbeds and meres, often at eye-level, feeding on flying insects. Quite a sight!

These birds will likely be departing any day, as they are one of the earliest of our summer migrants to head back to Africa. It would appear that summer is truly coming to an end.

Swift photo by Chris Gomersall rspb-images.com

In other news, visitors have been reporting lots of sightings of red and roe deer from various points around the reserve. The 9 meter-high Skytower, does provide spectacular views across the site and deer can often be spotted from there so it’s well worth scanning the reeds for signs of these large animals.

 Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual and we are continuing to see a build up in wildfowl. Causeway Hide and Lilian’s Hide are both great places to see a selection of ducks, many of which are in their ‘eclipse’ plumage making identification challenging but fun. Look out for pochard, tufted duck, teal, gadwall, mallard and shoveler – be mindful that other less common species, might just appear at this time too.

Mallard photo by Chris Gomersall rspb-images.com

The marsh harriers continue to roam around the reedbed and we have had regular, if erratic, sightings of osprey and hobby in recent days.

There are plenty of butterflies and dragonflies on the wing, especially on warmer days, and if the birding’s a little quiet in the afternoons these provide a fascinating and welcome distraction.

If you’re visiting us, don’t forget to let us know what you’ve seen – it really helps us build up a better picture of what’s around. Thanks!  

Jon

    

                

Rained Off

Just in case you are tuning in, to see how I got on again this morning ringng in the Obs reedbed, I need to let you know that I was rained off. I suppose you could say ‘drizzled’ off, which would be more accurate!My alarm was set for 0430, and I was up…

Continue Reading » Rained Off...

Not quite happening

Gentle and variable breeze. Overcast all day, but still very warm.Middleton Nature Reserve early am (from PM)Vis migTree pipit 1Grey Wagtail 2Pied Wagtail 4Tree Sparrow 1Swift 3. NO Swallows seen or heard in five hours and not a lot of grounded st…

Continue Reading » Not quite happening...

Blog Post: Hen Harrier Day goes online!

This Saturday the RSPB is supporting Online Hen Harrier Day , a packed programme of talks, mini films, competitions and artistic creations all celebrating the iconic, moorland-dwelling, sky-dancing hen harrier. The event will take place on 8 August and, like so many others, will be a fully online experience for 2020! It will be hosted by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin, and you can find it and subscribe at: www.youtube.com/HenHarrierDayUK Credit Pete Morris The interest this year’s Hen Harrier Day has attracted from those eager to contribute has been utterly heartwarming. From household names to young, passionate conservationists in the making, from street artists to choirs, so many have given their time to helping put this day together. As well as being a celebration of hen harriers, the day also aims to highlight the continuing illegal persecution of these birds. Since 2004 numbers have tumbled by 24% and we all know the reason why this downward dive is so steep. There should be 300 pairs in England alone, yet each year only a handful of nests are recorded. Scientific research published in 2019 showed that 72% of the satellite-tagged hen harriers in their study were killed or very likely to have been killed on British grouse moors, and that hen harriers were 10 times more likely to die or disappear over areas of grouse moor relative to other land uses. Mark Thomas, Guy Shorrock and Ian Thomson will be speaking about their experience working in RSPB Investigations, helping to protect hen harriers and other birds of prey by gathering evidence of raptor persecution and pushing for urgent changes to secure their future. So, tune in on Saturday and help us raise our voices for hen harriers. Twitter users, keep an eye on @RSPBbirders and @HHDayUK for more. “I am delighted to be hosting Hen Harrier Day Online and look forward to enthusing audiences new and old about these iconic birds,” says Chris Packham. “I have been involved in Hen Harrier Days since the first one in the Derwent Valley in 2014, and I am delighted to see the event flourishing despite the tragedy of Covid-19. I am looking forward to a great day helping raise awareness of this wonderful bird and its terrible persecution on driven grouse moors. I will be talking to inspiring young people, great experts and many others who want to see urgent change in our uplands so that hen harriers can continue to be part of these landscapes.” Martin Harper, Conservation Director at the RSPB, said: “Nature is in crisis and the time is now to build a sustainable and nature-rich future for the benefit of us all. The problems in our uplands – from peatbog burning and flooding to raptor persecution – must be addressed urgently. Hen Harrier Day is crucial in helping bring these issues to the fore.” Dr Ruth Tingay, co-director of Wild Justice said: “Having an online event for Hen Harrier Day 2020 is testament to the determination of conservationists to see an end to the illegal killing of hen harriers and other raptors on the UK’s grouse moors. Not even a global pandemic will put us off. Wild Justice is thrilled to be supporting this event.” Alan Cranston, Chair of Hen Harrier Action, said: “The hen harrier is a symbol for our wider concerns about nature in the uplands and that is a theme that has resonated with many poets, writers and artists who will be taking part. “The moorlands of Britain are places we all should be able to enjoy, whether as visitors or locals. By hosting the event online, we hope that even more people will be able to join us this year in celebrating the UK’s hen harriers and the landscapes they bring to life.” Watch live at: www.youtube.com/HenHarrierDayUK And get involved on social media at: @HHDayUK

Changing Places

I missed out on Monday‚Äôs ringing when Andy caught another 32 birds up at Oakenclough – 9 more Willow Warblers, more Blackcaps, yet another Garden Warbler and one each of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. We decided on a change of venue today when a post-…

Continue Reading » Changing Places...

Antisocial Rock Pipits

The strong overnight southerly winds quickly eased. Heavy and prolonged showers.Again, just my check of the south shore, so far (MD)11:15 Two hours before high waterMediterranean gull – just one juvenile feeding on No.2 outflow. No sign of any on Red N…

Anyone seen any butterflies?

The Safari has been wanting to do counts for this summer’s Big Butterfly Count but the weather has been constantly putting the mockers on proceedings so much so that we’ve only managed a couple of counts over the last fortnight and they haven’t reveale…

The Common Terns Champion.

It’s a year ago today 5 August, since I last saw Ian Pinkerton as he drove away from Conder Pool to go home to Wigan for the weekend with Yvonne. Ian asked if I would keep an eye on the Avocet family which he was hoping to see fledge soon, he…