Monday, 17 December 2012

Saturday and Sunday 15th and 16th December

Wildfowl over the first screen (c) Bark

One of the Chiffies (c) Bark

and another (c) Bark

Green woodpecker by the first screen (c) Bark

Snipe calling and flying (c) Bark
Another really good weekend on the moor with good weather and lots of birds to look at.
The highlight was probably the smart adult male Hen Harrier that was seen on both days quartering the fields. The ring tailed bird was also present occasionally during the day and later causing consternation at the Starling roost. Early visitors to the reserve are reporting a Barn Owl hunting regularly in the Carpark field. We also saw the first Short eared Owl of this winter on Sunday morning. It was being harassed by three corvids high over the reedbed, it then appeared to have had enough and started pursuing one of them very aggressively.
Peregrines were present on both days and frequently flushed the large flocks of Lapwings, Golden Plovers and assorted Gulls that were feeding on the receding floods in the fields to the west of the visitor trail. It is not often that we get the chance to scrutinise large numbers of gulls but on Saturday we were able to pick out two adult Yellow Legged Gulls from among the mixed Herring and Lesser Black backed flock. Also in the same location feeding on the grass were over fifteen Pied Wagtails and more than twenty Meadow Pipits.
Wildfowl are building up after the freeze last week and there were substantial numbers present again by Sunday. They seem to be concentrated out on the north eastern side of Greenaways and also on the western edge of Big Otmoor. As the floods recede elsewhere I expect the duck numbers on the reserve to rise still further. Amongst the Lapwings and Golden Plovers on Greenaways were a number of Ruff and when the Lapwings flushed there were at least three Dunlin with them.
There were at least four different Chiffchaffs feeding on the edge of the reedbed near the first screen, it was interesting to see just how variable they are in terms of tone, length and strength of the supercilium and amount of yellow they show. Several Goldcrests were active in the hedge along to the second screen, and with a little patience could be seen well. Ravens passed over on both days cronking loudly.
Providing the Mayans got it wrong I fully expect to be back on the moor next weekend and look forward to seeing what we can find.

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