|Sedge Warbler (c) Mark Chivers|
Now we have reached the second week in May it finally
seems as if the relentless run of cold northerly winds and an unprecedented number
of sharp night-time frosts has come to an end. The driest April for years has
given way to a much wetter and more showery May.
Feeding Redshank (c) Tom N-L
This is of great benefit to the newly arrived migrants and to the breeding resident birds as the heavy rain has softened the ground up again and has refreshed and revived the emergent vegetation along with the invertebrates that feed on it.
|Lesser Whitethroat in the rain and Common Whitethroat (c) Bark|
All of the anticipated summer migrants have arrived and are actively courting or already nesting. The past two weeks have seen a massive influx of Sedge Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats. Last weekend there seemed as though there was a Lesser Whitethroat singing in every hedgerow, they certainly seem to be more numerous than I remember them being last year.
|Sedge Warblers above (c) Tom N-L and below (c) Bark|
Sedge Warblers too seem much more abundant, although they are so vociferous, loud and raucous they are hard to miss.
|Reed Warblers are being much more reclusive (c) Bark|
There have been significant additions to the Otmoor
yearlist which now stands at one hundred and fifty-one, which is unprecedented
for this point in the year. Last Sunday we added a bird more by accident than
by good judgement. I photographed a tern that was sitting on one of the buoys that
support the cables for the tern raft, it was very much a silhouette as the sun
was bouncing off the water right into our eyes.
Arctic Tern (c) Bark
I didn’t see the bird fly off as I was watching a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge behind the screen. I realised that it didn’t look quite right for a Common Tern when I got it up on my screen and I sent it off for a second opinion and it turned out to be an Arctic Tern as I had rather suspected. It is not a bird that we record often on Otmoor, but I will be certainly checking early season terns much more carefully in the years to come.
|Lapwing and chicks (c) Tom N-L|
Another new addition to the list was found on a remote part of the reserve during an early morning hedgerow survey. It was a singing Nightingale, a species that was last recorded on the moor in June 2006. The rifle range area and Whitecross Green wood used to be a stronghold for the species in the county. As far as we know there was a small population just across in Buckinghamshire near Ambrosden on a restricted access piece of MOD land, but that population too may have dwindled and gone.
|Early morning Whinchat and Wheatear (c) Bark|
Early morning surveys on the northern side of the reserve have meant that we have been lucky enough to find birds that have been resting up overnight or feeding up before moving on. We have come across both Whinchat and Wheatears on the fields and in the hedgerows.
|Early morning Swallows (c) Bark|
We have come across hirundines resting up in the hedges after overnight roosts before continuing their journeys northwards. There have been up to five Whimbrel feeding in the fields to the north of the reserve. There was still one bird present last weekend in the field beside the Jacob Stone.
|Whimbrel (c) Bark|
Last Sunday there were at least eight Hobbies hunting
low and fast over Greenaway’s. There are still no significant numbers of
dragonflies emerging, perhaps because of the cold weather, there are however
lots of the dangly legged St marks flies being blown across the fields and the
Hobbies are feeding on these slow-moving insects. It must take a lot of flies to
keep such an active bird going!
Hobby and Fly (c) Andy Harris
This last weekend three of our four resident deer species were photographed and the Fallow Deer out on Ashgrave are probably related to the lone fawn that years ago identified as a cow!!
|Roe Deer (c) Tezzer Fallow herd (c) Tom N-L and Muntjac (c) Bark|