|All chuckle thrush pics (c) Bark|
|Early morning Harrier (c) Bark|
|Tranquil Teal (c) Bark|
|Redwing (c) Bark|
|Stonechat by the screen (c) Bark|
After a brief sojourn in the warm southern hemisphere, this weekends weather reminded me what the best and worst of winter can be like. Saturday damp grey and soggy and Sunday crisp bright and glowing with late autumn colour. It was a very “birdy” weekend with lots to see and enjoy.
On Sunday morning a Waxwing was seen in the carpark field near the feeders, it was heard a little later but sadly not relocated. This is only the second record that I know of for the reserve. It is no surprise that it could not be refound as there were at least three hundred winter thrushes continuously moving backwards and forwards between the hawthorn bushes and the shelter of the oaks along the Roman Way. They were predominantly Fieldfares, outnumbering Redwings by about four to one. They really are an early winter spectacle, subtly coloured like autumn itself, active and vociferous. When they first arrive they are very flighty and nervous but as the winter advances and the food sources begin to dry up they become much more confiding. There was another group on Sunday feeding in the hedge behind the second screen and with patience they approached fairly close and gave superb views.
The Hen Harrier was quartering The Closes on Sunday morning with a crow in close attendance and was later seen flushing Lapwings and Golden Plovers over Ashgrave. Several Stonechats could be seen including one male that sat on a reed stem in front of the second screen. Goldcrests could be found in most of the thick hedges but there was no sight or sound of the possible Firecrest reported during the week. a Chiffchaff sang briefly by the feeders in the sunshine on Sunday morning and a female Blackcap was seen in the same area.
Chaffinches, Greenfinches and a few Redpolls were feeding in front of the pumphouse on Greenaways but the Bramblings seem to have moved on. Last week Paul Greenaway saw and photographed a basking Grass Snake which seems a very late record for a species that hibernates. The Otters have been seen recently and there is a lot of signs of their presence. On Sunday morning we are fairly certain that we heard one calling as it swam along the ditch beside the bridle way on the way to Noke.
It is a massive change from eagles and elephants in the Kruger Park last weekend to Autumn colour and winter migrants on Otmoor, but nonetheless it is still good to be back.