Friday 10 July 2020

Dodging showers

Janet and I headed to the patch for some fresh air after work today. It was fresh n'all  - 13 degrees, it was sunny when we arrived and there were a few hovers around as we wandered up to the little hide but the sky was black all around us - rain was on the way.

An adult Water Rail was showing nicely on the muddy edge from the little hide, just too far away for photos but this Hare was in range as it scampered away. A big flock of dunlin and other waders swirled around in the distance towards the Budge screen that would need a closer look.

Brown Hare - legging it across the field
The sky darkened further as we headed back towards the road and eventually we had to make a dash for the shelter of the car as the heavens opened. From the car we could see one of the juvenile Common Cuckoos, that has been much coveted by the photographers lately, sat on the fence, before it dropped in closer onto a Ragwort plant where it gobbled up several Cinnabar moth caterpillars.

Juvenile Common Cuckoo taking Cinnabar moth caterpillars from Ragwort
The rain got heavier and the Cuckoo flew even closer to the road and our car and at one point was too close for my 400mm lens - 3.5m.

Here it is, un-cropped, on the edge of being in focus.

Once the rain eased we headed for the Budge screen to scrutinise the waders. There were five Ruff, four adult males and a juvenile bird and an amazing 45 Dunlin - all adults. One can only assume, as no juveniles are present,  that these are failed breeders heading south? There were 14 Black-tailed Godwits - at least eight of them were assignable to the icelandica race and the others were a good fit. A Little Ringed Plover and three Little Gulls were nice to see.

The Budge fields have been the best for breeding waders for as long as I can remember. Lapwing have done well, despite heavy losses to Corvids and Herons. There have been at least two successful broods of Redshank and Avocet is a new breeding species. The first brood of Avocets are nearly adult-size now and will fledge but the second brood is now only one very small chick. It looked incredibly cute tonight though, in the mud, with it's little up-turned bill. The adults seemed to be paying it little regard though - waders are crap parents.

I think a combination of a very wet winter which suppressed the marginal vegetation, followed by an incredibly dry spell (lockdown) along with the grazing by the six ponies has created the prefect sward height... maybe not for Snipe though which are pretty-much absent this spring.

Full list here

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