Thursday, July 21, 2016

Signs of summer. 20.7.2016

Post dawn saw utterly calm conditions at Ingbirchworth Reservoir near home with an accompanying, almost strange quietness.  Along the dam wall at least 7 Grey Wagtails and a few Pied Wagtails fed and a single Common Sandpiper explored the water's edge.  Mallard numbers are now begining to rise and a couple of small, late broods were noted too. Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Coot, Great crested Grebe and Little Grebe all added to the variety along with three Grey Heron, one of which was a very clear juvenile.

Young thrushes, warblers and the odd anxious party of titmice all signalled the breeding season had perhaps not been as bad as feared. A Lesser Whitethroat was in full song, a late arrival with no mate (?), contrasting with the muted alarm calls of its near relative at various places.  A single Great Spotted Woodpecker called, as did a Common Buzzard , and two Sand Martin made their way south westwards across the reservoir, the only direct evidence of birds on the move.

A visit to nearby Gunthwaite Dam produced little ( Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck ) although Nuthatch and Bullfinch added variety.  Broadstones Reservoir had Mallard and a group of over 20 Swallows but yielded nothing more.  0830 hours and time for breakfast!  Whitley Common held a group of LBBG's and odd BHG whose numbers altered incessantly.  I was intrigued by a young Kestrel which repeatedly launched itself from a tree in a small plantation and circled low over adjacent grassland. It stooped a couple of times, but I wasn't sure how successfully !  It's efforts at regaining its perch position were less than polished with most occasions seeing it sprawled in the branches previous to a final scramble for safety. No doubt a locally bred bird now facing the rigours of independence!

Moving off onto higher ground the silence north of Tinker Hill moorland was shattered by a Curlew circling around and calling repeatedly. This went on for some time, although nothing else was in view until a large immature female Peregrine rose from the ground and flew off south,  possibly after taking a tilt at a Curlew youngster. Winscar Reservoir had its usual collection of Canada Geese, Mallard  and ferals, all sent into disarray by dogs being walked along the shore, bathing or chasing ducks and geese!!  Time to depart, but in any case given it was now late morning , and the temperature was beginning to rise with a vengeance. After  the odd foray into a couple of areas looking for butterflies I called a halt to proceedings, went home and watched the Tour de France participants battle their way up impossible contours in heat similar to that outside !!
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