…has its compensations. Having not slept well through the wee small hours, when I woke again at 5 with a proper face-ache I decided to get up and have done with it. After a leisurely pint of tea to wash down a tablet breakfast, I was soon at Leighton Moss under immaculate blue skies. There seemed to be more small bird activity along the causeway path then I would usually expect. I saw several warblers at unusually close quarters. I was heading for Lower Hide. On the path round I passed several….
….tall common valerian plants.
Just behind the hide I watched for quite some time as a bird circulated between several high treetop and shrub perches, singing the whole time. The song was a complex mix of sweet notes and the guttural whirrs and clicks that some warblers make. The flights seemed to be some sort of display with a climb at roughly 45 degrees, a similar descent, rapid wing beats and continuous singing. I took several photos, which, whilst not great, are sufficient to show that the bird was a sedge warbler. I subsequently found that sedge warblers were sometimes know as mock nightingales because of their fine singing.
From the hide I watched a great crested grebe in the mere and a marsh harrier flying beyond it, but it was the birds in the reeds which really caught my attention.
Particularly these reed buntings.
And the blue tits which were briefly with them.
I think that this is a juvenile, because of the lack of blue on the head.
I also took no end of shots of a reed warbler singing energetically from the reeds, sadly none of them came out too well.
When I eventually dragged myself away from the hide and started for home and family and breakfast, I found that the sedge warbler was still energetically circuiting the same few perches singing every bit as enthusiastically as before. I also startled another roe deer with fawn, but this pair were away very quickly – there was no question of me getting any photos.
I would have said that this was limestone woundwort, but I see from ‘The Wildflower Key’ that in fact it is marsh woundwort. The leaves and flowers are slightly wrong for limestone woundwort.
Star sedge (I think).
These flowers, on tall stems, looked rather insignificant at first glance, but on closer inspection are rather cheery. I think they might be nipplewort, in which case I was lucky to catch them on a sunny morning since they are reluctant to open in cloudy conditions or afternoons.
I had a brief but stunning view of a marsh harrier, then spotted this male broad-bodied chaser sunning himself by the path.
Frustratingly, I also had good clear view of a male reed bunting singing from a prominent perch on a shrub and of another path-side broad-bodied chaser, this time a yellow female, but couldn’t get decent photos of either. Another time.