July – August 2018
Following the second warmest July since 2010 – 4 degrees C above average – temperatures returned closer to normal in August, but the drought continued, and birds seemed thin on the ground.
Our summering Wigeon was joined by up to three other birds, and Teal numbers rose to 45. One or two Garganeys were present throughout the period. Finally a moulting adult male Pintail put in an appearance at the end of August.
A Bittern seen and photographed on 14th August had a ring on the left leg which strongly suggests that it is our rescue bird ringed and released on site in September 2016 – see our blog about this here. Although Bitterns have been seen on site in August in six previous years we had always thought that these were exploring young birds with no reason to suspect that adults would return so early in the autumn.
Besides one flyover Osprey, there were eight records of Marsh Harrier: all of these refer to females and it seems likely that a single bird was lingering in the wider vicinity.
Once again there were few wader records. Notable were a single Dunlin, and one or two Black-tailed Godwits on five dates. The first returning Common Sandpiper was followed by regular records of single birds with a maximum count of three.
A juvenile Mediterranean Gull in July was an early find, and even better was a Little Tern at the end of July: this is only the fourth record for the site and the first not in May!
A single Raven flying over was followed by a pair a couple of weeks later.
Hirundines have been scarce with Sand Martins only recorded on three dates in July. In August, Swallows peaked at 50, and Sand Martins at 40. Ninety House Martins were caught and ringed from a single net in the 1st Meadow on one day in August – no more than 50 were seen at any one time so birds must have been passing through; there was only one bird caught twice!
A single Yellow Wagtail was followed by four in the Meadow three days later. The following day five were present, sitting around and perching along the top panel string of the House Martin net!
Finally, a Spotted Flycatcher was a surprising catch from a net set amongst the reeds and water on the new Scrape bund in August.