Its been a busy week down Farlington this week. Lots of Bearded Tits, a Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Barn Owl, tons of Curlew, Brent Geese and Shelduck and still a Short Eared Owl or two. There was a leucistic duck by the building Tuesday which I think was a Gadwall, despite being positioned next to a Pintail.
Today was particularly gloomy but there were 500+ Dunlin feeding on the mudflats west of the marsh with a few Black Tailed Godwits and Redshank mixed in. There was also one solitary Avocet roosting on the lake. I haven’t seen any Avocet around for a little while, despite the high numbers earlier in the year.
Spring really descended on Thursday. We were working in tshirts at Swanwick Lakes, basking in the warmth on the edge of the lakes. Whilst we were sat at lunch we had a Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and a Red Admiral pass by! These are the first butterflies that I have seen this year.
I think Saturday will be the better day this weekend and so will be a good opportunity to see the last of the waders and wildfowl. The numbers have certainly dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks and it will be sensible to keep an eye out for the first of the summer migrants. Reports of Wheatears and House/Sand Martins have been arriving across the country for a week or so now!
It has been quite a hectic few days and I have not had a chance to post. Summer has arrived and we have been working in weather that has been verging on being too good. On Monday the Beechcroft team were path clearing at Southmoor, we hope to lay the hedge here next winter which will hopefully reduce the problems with it closing down the path width and make the whole length much better for wildlife as well.
path clearing at Southmoor
The hotter weather has also resulted in a surge in the numbers of insects around. There are now good numbers of meadow brown and small heath flying over the grasslands and summer brood small tortoiseshell and comma seem to be doing well too. Small tortoiseshell have been in very short supply in recent years so seeing good number of them is especially pleasing. More insects has been good for the spiders too and I have got several shots of them cashing in on the abundance over recent days. First a zebra spider on the outside wall of the Building at Farlington.
zebra spider with fly
Then a larger spider on a wild carrot flower head near the Lake at Farlington.
Lastly a small spider inside the Buidling at Farlington that was taking on a horsefly.
spider with horsefly
The hot weather is not good news for all though. Yesterday I went to the sluice at the Lake to clear any debris at the grill and found it partly blocked with dead flounders. They all looked fine and only larger fish were involved. The spring tides at present mean the Lake level gets very low at low water and the water heats up resulting in severe oxygen deficit, the fish may well have tried to get out through the sluice but were too large to exit and so died in the deepest water still available to them. I have seen this before in hot dry spells and I think only eels can successfully survive int he Lake in all conditions.
The low Lake levels are allowing the wader roost to build and a sign of approaching autumn is the number of redshank and now greenshank that are gathering. I saw three greenshank but fourteen were reported yesterday. I was pleased to see a half-grown redshank chick on the south side of the Lake though, it is often very difficult to assess their breeding success but this seems to have been quite a good year for them.
Saturday started well with bright sunshine and the Bushes were alive with thrushes, including a good few redwing and migrant song thrushes, there were also blackbirds, but try as I might I could not find a ring ouzel. The warblers are falling in numbers rapidly now and I saw only a few blackcap and about 10 chiffchaff all day. I might have done better had I not wasted the first hour of the day waiting in vain for the lorry to come to empty the cess pit.
Eventually I decided enough was enough and set off round the reserve. There were good numbers of brent close in off the southern seawall, but before I could get to them a Chinook fly low over the Harbour and most flew off in the mayhem. In the big flush of birds I did pick up the avocet flying about calling excitedly. The remaining brent did include one pleasing sight, a single juvenile bird, so at least there will be some youngsters. The first to arrive are always the failed breeders so seeing a juvenile when perhaps only a quarter of the birds have arrived is a good omen.
brent and shelduck
In the Point Field a short-eared owl gave a brief display and a pair of stonechat were on the brambles. In the Harbour a merlin was chasing the waders and a wheatear was on Baker’s Island. I could not get a picture of the owl but I did get this red admiral.
Looking of the Point there were 9 red-breasted merganser and a merlin hunting the wader flocks. A single yellow wagtail was still with the cattle and a few swallow and house martin were flying over heading east.
After lunch I headed north of the road to see how the ponies were doing, it was pretty quiet apart from 4 or so chiffchaff and this commathe I found resting on a fence post.