Weather: Very hot and sunny, clouding up later. Slight breeze.
Little Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Teal; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Sparrowhawk; Marsh Harrier; Buzzard; Kestrel; Pheasant; Moorhen; Coot; Little Ringed Plover; Lapwing; Green Sandpiper; Black-headed Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Tern; Woodpigeon; Stock Dove; Swift; Kingfisher; Great Spotted Woodpecker (H); Green Woodpecker; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Dunnock; Robin (H); Blackbird; Cetti's Warbler (H); Reed Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Chiffchaff; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Magpie; Carrion Crow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Greenfinch (H); Reed Bunting. Total: 49
Plus: Comma, Large White, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Six-spot Burnet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker dragonflies.
Plus: Water Buffalo; Rabbit; Spotted Crane Fly; various Bees, Hoverflies and Wasps.
It was another scorchio day today, but with a mercifully cool breeze. There was also some cloud cover later in the afternoon.
Arriving just after 10 I made my way to the Draper Hide, firstly checking for Water Voles and interesting insects. I found neither and soon found myself sitting in an empty Hide. Earlier, on the train, I had spotted 3 Little Egrets; a GCG and heard a GSW on the way to the Reserve.
There were already lots of butterflies about, mainly Ringlets and Small Tortoiseshells at first. Plus lots of blues damsels. It was also good to see lots of bees about.
From the Hide I could already see 2 Common Terns; 1 Green Sandpiper; 1 LRP and 1 Lapwing. On closer inspection this increased to 4 Common Terns; 3 Green Sandpipers; 3 LRPs and 35+ Lapwing. The resident pair of Little Grebes swam past the Hide and looked resplendent in their colourful plumage. The usual totals of ducks and geese were also out on the lake, mostly Gadwall. Then a party of schoolchildren came in and I decided to take the opportunity to head off.
Outside on the trails I could hear a Chiffchaff singing, the first of several. Then I spotted a Small Skipper and a couple of 6-spot Ladybirds, hopefully the first of many from now on. A Greenfinch was pumping out its wheezy call and then I saw a Kestrel fly over. Just before I got to the twin Hides a Cetti's called out.
When I arrived at the Hides I found 2 more school parties already in situ. They soon left though, but I didn't stay too long in either as there were only Coots; BHGs and Common Terns around. There were over 20 Mute Swans swimming around.
I headed off and soon found myself in the Kingfisher Hide. Which was packed out. After 5 minutes some people left and I managed to sit down next to a familiar face, another regular Birder. We chatted while the male KF flew in and out, showing quite well all day, bringing in food for the newly-hatched young. But he only came in close twice, both times with his back to me. I didn't see the female all day - she must have stayed in the nest. There were also a pair of juvenile Kestrels in one of the boxes on the pylon. Both keenly looking out, waiting for an adult. There were a group of LTTs singing out to the right until a Sparrowhawk flew in and scattered them.
I spent about an hour here before deciding to move off down the trail to the Warbler Hide. Which took me about 30 minutes as I continually stopped to check for insects. Mainly damsels and butterflies again and the odd Spotted Crane Fly. But I did see a Brown Hawker, which was having a territorial dispute with a Southern Hawker. And then a very small Longhorn Beetle flew in and landed on a leaf.
Just before I got to the Warbler a Red Admiral flew by. From the Hide all I could see were a pair of Reed Buntings and a few Lapwings. There were also Reed and Sedge Warblers flying back and forth. As I was scanning the sky a Green Woodpecker flashed past me. Then a Common Tern flew over, followed by a pair of Little Egrets. I was waiting to see either a Hobby or the female Marsh Harrier but, with neither making an appearance, after an hour I decided to head back. Just outside the Hide, on the walkway, I heard, then saw, the Harrier. It was quite high at first, then she swooped down low over the field, landing on one of her favourite posts. She was soon followed by a Buzzard, circling even higher. Brilliant!
On the way back I spotted a pair of Brown Hawkers having their own territorial dispute. Then another Kestrel hovered over me, then dived down and flew back up with prey. I wasn't sure what it was but it was now history. Then I witnessed a fight between a LTT and a Chiffchaff. It looked like the LTT won as the Chiffie flew off. Another Small Skipper flew in and landed on a flower, allowing a few shots while soon after an immature Black-tailed Skimmer gave me an equally good photo opportunity.
Crossing the bridge towards the KF Hide there was another Brown Hawker patrolling its territory. I then spent another hour in the KF hide, seeing pretty much the same thing again with the addition of a Grey Wagtail which flew up onto the nearest posing post.
Time was now against me and I only stopped briefly at the twin Hides to confirm there was nothing new there. I quickly walked back to the Draper.
This time I saw a total of 7 Green Sandpipers, 6 Common Terns, a Pied Waggie and a Teal. One of the Sandpipers came in close and allowed a few photos. The Pied chased off what looked like a juvenile Grey Wagtail and was then in turn chased off by a BHG. The other BHGs then mobbed an LBBG which flew in too close.
On the way back to the Visitor Center I spotted my first 6-spot Burnets of the year, followed by my second view of the Marsh Harrier. By now it was starting to cloud over but I was done for the day.