Monday, 4 May 2015

H is for Hobby, hirundines, and herpetology

As is typical at this time of year its' been busy with up and down weather and influxes of birds. Highlight of the weekend has to be Kris Gillams' rumper at West Rise to which I paid a couple of visits. Red-rumps never fail to delight and so it was with this one, although it could be elusive at times disappearing to other areas of the marsh. Whilst looking for it yesterday I wandered off to the north west corner of the main lake and saw the Swallow pictured left. In the field this bird was very striking with the peach-orange underparts and underwing coverts  very different to the creamy white of the typical rustica. My thoughts wandered to one of the southern/eastern races, however typically these would exhibit an even richer rufous tone with the possible exception of transitiva. On researching it seems that separation in the field of transitiva from rustica would be nigh on impossible and that the nominate rustica in the southern/ eastern limits of its range increasingly show this peach coloration on their underparts to perhaps 10 percent of the population. Nonetheless an interesting bird and coupled with the Red-rumped, Sand Martins, House Martins, certainly nominate rustica Swallows, Swifts, Yellow Wagtails, and a couple of Hobby (including one seen to catch a hirundine and proceed to pluck it on the wing), made it an enjoyable couple of visits.
On the patch the highlight has been the proper arrival this weekend of Hobby with a total of twelve visible late morning today, the 4th, on Horse-eye alone. A single Greenshank is still present on Down Level in the company of two summer plumaged Dunlin, and the pair of Gadwall are still in residence on Mappins'. My first brood of Moorhen for the year were seen in one of the ditches off White Dyke with a total of 3 day old or so young.
Finally today I paid a short visit to Park Corner Heath in the hope of seeing some butterflies. All to no avail, however I did manage to see all the reptiles I could have hoped for here in the form of Common Lizard, 3 Slow Worm, a female Adder, and a Grass Snake. Also very worryingly someone had put a note in the log referring to a dead adder they had seen with a crushed head (presumably from a boot). Surely people who visit reserves and purport to care about the environment and wildlife would know better than to do something as ignorant and shameful as that. If not there is little hope for our species....

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