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Herons in the Sun

Herons in the Sun
Herons in the Sun
It was hot today, probably too hot to really hit the patch hard, but never the less, with the grand opening of the nature reserve scheduled for tomorrow (I wanted to see what was about without crowds of people), The little lady and I decided we'd take the risk and headed out to the nature reserve.

We were in search mainly of early migrants (well waders), and the exciting prospect of having some decent views of the Great White Egret that seems to have made the Floodplain forest nature reserve its home over the last couple of weeks.

We weren't disappointed on any count!

(Disclaimer: Photo heavy post)

Birdfair 2016

Birdfair 2016 - Our Raffle Draw
Birdfair 2016 - Our Raffle Draw
I had the weekend booked of of work, this past weekend (19th to 21st August 2016), I booked it last year if I'm honest, so what did I do on my weekend away from the paying job? Did I spend it relaxing by a pool somewhere, sipping on cool cocktails? Did I spend it out in the field spending a few well earned days hunting down migrants? Or Did I even spend it with the kids hunting fictitious creatures known as Pokemon?

Well.... No!

No in fact I spent the weekend on my feet from 08:30 till 17:30, selling raffle tickets and promoting Birding for All, the access charity I volunteer with, at the British Bird Watching Fair at Rutland water, more commonly known as Birdfair!

Hen Harrier Day 2016

Hen Harrier Day 2016 Image courtesy of Wino Wendy's Wildlife World - http://winowendyswildlifeworld.blogspot.co.uk/
Hen Harrier Day 2016
Image courtesy of Wino Wendy's Wildlife World
Hen Harriers, enigmatic skydancers who, should, rule the skies of British moorland. A raptor that I have often admired on their wintering grounds at raptor roosts (usually the more muted ringtails, sadly, rather than the striking grey male) but one I have never seen on a summer moor, or performing their legendary skydance display (one day). 

Sadly, very sadly in my opinion, it is also a bird that is under serious threat in the UK (especially in England).

What is happening to them? Well where there should be around 300 pairs (estimates put it around 330 pairs with suitable habitat) on English moors, currently there are 3 known pairs! Why? Because these moors are often used as grouse moors for shooting, and gamekeepers/land owners don't want them competing for the quarry so out come traps, guns and poison to "get rid" of this wonderful bird, all illegal of course.

Here is the petition (currently standing at some 74500 signatures) to ban driven grouse shooting, and, hopefully, give some protection to the wonderful Hen Harrier: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

A Walk Amongst The Butterflies

A Walk Amongst the Butterflies
A Walk Amongst the Butterflies
We have just had the two hottest days of the year, back to back, and let me be honest with you here, with temperatures hot enough to soften the black, sticky, tarmac on the local roads, a slightly chubby (I'm being polite here) lad like me often finds himself melting like the ice lollies I wish I was eating. 

Today however the heat had dropped off a little and the warmth was as pleasant as you could like without it being too hot to walk, and without the humidity that sees me "glistening" the second I make any kind of physical movement. 

And so it was that today I headed out onto the patch for a walk amongst the butterflies, dragonflies and birds of a British summers day.

Introducing the Patch - Millennium Bridge

Introducing the Patch - Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge was built around the start of the 21st century (as far as I remember it was finished a bit later than originally scheduled) and links up national Cycle route 6 as it crosses the river Ouse, it's not a remarkable bridge in any way, all concrete and iron, but the area around it is an interesting part of the patch. And I use this name to describe it for ease.

The area itself covers a cabbage field, as it reaches the railway line and eventually the Viaduct at Haversham, a rough set aside field which is part of  the camp site (and is only for campers), the River Ouse itself, a stand of (I think) Poplars and the rough surround of the Eastern lakes.

Last June Jaunt

Last June Jaunt
Last June Jaunt
I have to be honest June is one of my least busy months on the patch front at the best of times, the birding drops right off with so many birds nesting and nothing new moving through, but this June has been so wet that my normal targets, the butterflies and odonata, have been struggling too, but yesterday I headed out anyway on my Last June Jaunt of the year.

There is still a dearth of butterflies on the wing, and the odes seem to be well behind normal emergence levels (there's more later about all these) what does seem to be doing well this year though is the hoverflies and this walk became a great day for checking them out.

Anyway please read on.