|Young Sedgie (c) JR|
It was a mostly dry weekend with rain overnight. Sunday morning was cool yet sunny with gin clear air and perfect light. The suite of birds on show were largely as we would expect in late summer as we nudge into autumn.
As we wandered along the bridleway and the trails there were many feeding parties of mixed warblers and tits to be seen.
|Long Tailed Tits (c) Tom N-L|
|Elusive warblers (c) Bark|
|Purple Loosestrife (c) Bark|
All of our regular summer visitors, apart from Cuckoos, are still with us. The Common Cranes were seen flying in and out of Greenaways on both days. Hobbies are still hunting the abundant large dragonflies over the larger fields.
|Ruddy Darter (c) Tom N-L|
Several different Marsh Harriers came and went and the we have no way of knowing if the juvenile seen was one of “ours” or a visitor. The extra pale Common Buzzard was noted several times sitting on its favoured post out on Greenaways. A Peregrine over on Sunday was the first that I have seen for some weeks.
|Reed Bunting (c) JR|
There has been a steady stream of waders through, mostly viewable from the first screen. The mud exposed as the water has drawn down is attracting Greenshanks, Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers and of course lots of Snipe. The latter can be very difficult to pick out as they are so perfectly camouflaged. Two Ringed Plovers dropped in one day last week. Other birds can be seen creeping about on the margins amongst the moulting ducks. One of these is a juvenile Water Rail that at a distance can look disconcertingly like a Little Crake. Having said that, this is the time when we are most likely to see a passage Crake on Otmoor. There have been a number of Spotted Crakes seen across the country in the last week or so and Spotted Crake has been recorded from the first screen once before in late August.
|Yellow Wagtails with the cattle (c) Bark|
Out on Big Otmoor there were a couple of Wheatears feeding in one of the areas that were flooded and since drying out has been grazed down by the Geese and the cattle. When the cows came close enough to the bridleway it was possible to pick out the Yellow Wagtails that were hunting just beside their feet in the shorter grass. Their numbers will build up during the next few weeks and it fascinating to think that these same birds feeding between the legs of Otmoor cows could be feeding under the hooves of Ankole Cattle, Zebra or Wildebeest in just a few months’ time.
At Noke and out on Ashgrave to the left of the hide were small groups of Whinchats. There were still at least two juvenile Stonechats out at the Pill on Saturday morning. On one of the short grass fields near to Lower Farm there were five Wheatears on Saturday morning.
|Unwell Sparrowhak (c) James Mackie Walker|
A Sparrowhawk that appeared to have been stunned or had some kind of accident was eventually taken into care by some considerate birders who got in touch with St Tiggwinkles. They sent someone out who picked up the bird and took it into their hospital. The bird had not been hit or hurt but was in fact starving, as it had been infected by the trichomonas parasite. Sadly it was too far gone to save and succumbed. The parasite is most commonly found in finches where it blocks their throats and prevents them from feeding. We can only assume that it ate an infected finch and so was became host to the parasite. I had not heard of this happening to raptors before but an infected and weakened finch would be much easier for a young inexperienced predator to catch. A less than cheerful end to the weekend.
|Our Ashgrave Fallow Deer are still with us. (c) Tezzer|