Thursday, 14 June 2012

Reed Buntings and Damselflies in South Oxfordshire

There was a break in the weather today which allowed me to get out and do some breeding bird surveys, so I headed up to a site in South Oxfordshire. This site is lovely and consists of a mainly flooded site which is dominated with Hard Rush Juncus inflexus, but has a mix of other species including Common Spike Rush Eleocharis palustris, Common Club Rush Schoenoplectus lacustris, Hop Sedge Carex pseudocyperus and patches of Greater Reedmace Typha latifolia.

Bird wise there are several wetland species breeding on the site including Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, Eurasian Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus and Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, but by far the most numerous is Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus. There must be at least a dozen pairs nesting at the site, usually within the patches of Typha but occasionally in areas of less dense vegetation.

Reed Bunting Nest with Eggs
Typically Reed Bunting eggs are olive-brown in colour but these were very pale, however they still showed the usual black brown smudgy spots. Some pairs were feeding young and carrying a large beak full of grubs, but I didn't manage to find any of their nests. 

The sunny conditions were proving very popular with the resident chasers and damselflies also with Broad-bodied Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer evident, whilst Common Blue Damselflies were the most abundant.

Common Blue Damselfly

Red-eyed Damselflies were present in smaller numbers and it was interesting to watch them vie with the more numerous Common Blues for the best basking spots.

Red-eyed Damselfly
As the Common Blues approached the Red-eyes would flick their wings to proclaim their territory, but this was often not sufficient and a brief aerial combat would be the outcome, with the red-eyed usually winning.

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