Reed Bunting feeding on reed seeds (c) Peter Barker
Short-eared owl on the cattle pens (c) Andrew Last
Fox about to enter the reed bed (c) Pat Galka
Dawn in the car park field (c) Peter Barker
A very quiet weekend birdwise but slightly compensated for by a beautiful dawn on Saturday and some rain, at last, on Sunday. It might seem that I am getting weather obsessed but a wetland is only a wetland if it has water! Breeding success next spring is dependent on ditches full of water and a healthy population on invertebrates for Lapwing chicks to feed on. We have hosted wintering Bittern for the last few years, but at present the water does not extend into the reeds and any feeding Bittern would be exposed while hunting. Unless water levels change significantly we are unlikely to have anything more than a short passage visitor.
Raptors are the main compensation for the dry conditions and Hen Harriers, Merlin and at least six Short-eared Owls are some consolation. The Merlin was particularly welcome for one well known local birder for whom it was his one hundred and ninetieth bird in Oxon this year, an amazing achievement.
Ravens were again seen over and around the moor and by finding a feeding party of small birds a number of different species could be seen. Kingfishers were present along ditches and from the screens so there must be some fish still around, but on Sunday we saw a Heron feeding on what looked to be dead fish on the far side of the Northern Lagoon. The Starling roost has not really amounted to much this year, but the reed bed cannot be a very secure roost site while foxes can come and go without getting their feet wet.