|Common Tern (c) Bark|
On Saturday morning I was helping with a group of Otmoor volunteers who wanted to brush up on their spring visitor id. It is always easier to make a direct connection between a bird and its song when you can actually see it whilst it is singing. The Otmoor warblers did not let us down in this respect.
|Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat (c) Bark|
|Common Whitethroat (c) JR and Sedge Warbler (c) Paul Wyeth|
|Cuckoos above (c) Bark below (c) Paul Wyeth|
Over the whole weekend Cuckoos were very active, calling and chasing across the moor. On Sunday we were certain that there were five different individuals present and as well as the familiar male “cuckoo” call the females chuckling bubbling call could also be heard. Sometimes the males could be seen flying in a slow stalling flight whilst calling continuously.
|Common Whitethroat (c) Bark|
Bitterns too were very much on show. On both Saturday and Sunday there were two individuals out and about in the open on Greenaways. The sedge is still low enough for the bittern’s head to appear above the vegetation like a periscope. It may well be that there are particularly good feeding opportunities out there in the middle, with frogs and other amphibians around the shallow ditches.
|Common Tern with offering (c) JR|
At the second screen the Tern colony is now well established on the raft. It is difficult to determine just how many pairs there are, as the birds are coming and going all the time. It certainly seems that there are more pairs out there than last year. Courtship behaviour involves a great deal of screaming, calling and presentation of food to strengthen pair bonds.
|Redshank (c) Bark|
There has been a smattering of passage waders out on Big Otmoor including Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and a couple of Greenshanks. There have also been occasional sightings of Garganey both there and out in front of the first screen.
|Swalow drinking (c) Paul Wyeth|
Hobbies are currently very much in evidence, either perched out on posts on Greenaways or later in the morning hunting low over the ditches, increasingly taking dragonflies as their numbers are increasing as more and more adults appear. On Monday morning this week at least fourteen individuals were on and over Greenaways. It will be worthwhile looking through these falcons carefully as we might perhaps find another Red-footed Falcon amongst them. We had a fine male over Greenaways for one day in 2007 and it would be wonderful to see another one.
|Hawthorn and Water violet (c) Bark|
More and more plants are coming into bloom. In the ditches we are seeing the first clumps of water violet and Hawthorn is showing on shades of white and more rarely pink. In front of the first screen a large of flag Irises are just about to burst into flower, it is a very dynamic and colourful time of year.
|Lackey moth caterpillars. (c) Bark|