Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th December

Lapwings (c) Bark

Even more Lapwings (c) Bark

Low Kite flypast (c) Bark

Mixed wildfowl flushing (c) Bark

Bullfinches back in the hedge to the second screen (c) Bark

Male Stonechat (c) Andy Last

Female Stonechat (c) Andy Last

It was a very “birdy” weekend. I can’t remember a time during the last five or six years, when there was so much water on the moor, it has become an absolute paradise for wildfowl. Duck numbers, particularly Teal and Wigeon have risen very sharply and I estimate that there are at least one and a half thousand of each species on the reserve. The bulk of them are on Greenaways with another substantial group out on the Flood Field. I addition to the birds on the reserve there were frequent flushes of wildfowl out on the flooded MOD land. They were restless and frequently disturbed by the attentions of two Peregrines that were patrolling the site. There were at least fifty Pintail, and slightly higher numbers of Shoveller. I was very interested to find one hundred and fifty eight (yes I did count them) Gadwall in front of the second screen on Sunday, I can’t remember having such a large group of them before on Otmoor. Oddly there do not seem to be any Pochard around unless I failed to notice them in the general melee of ducks.
Lapwing and Golden Plover numbers have also risen with several flocks of birds resting up on the small patches of grass that are starting to emerge from the floods on the western side of the path to the second screen. There were also substantial numbers of Gulls feeding on the floods.
There was further good news when a couple of north Oxfordshire birders re-found two of the Bearded Tits up by the second screen, in addition they also had flight views of a Bittern on one of the smaller reed clumps out on the western edge of Greenaways. I was particularly pleased as, because they had not been reported for the last three weeks, I thought it likely that they had gone. Dunlin and Ruff were on Greenaways associating with Lapwing and a smaller party of Goldies. A Kingfisher was present near the hide as were a small flock of Meadow Pipits.
A couple of Chiffchaffs are still in the hedgerow along the bridleway and a small party of Bullfinches have taken up winter quarters along the path to the second screen, where they can be found every year.
Birding on the moor was curtailed mid morning on Sunday as we made a quick dash to Farmoor to see the Falcated Teal. Why is it always the case that when something special turns up in the county I am almost guaranteed to be as far from the carpark that it is possible to be? Perhaps it might relocate to Otmoor but at the moment it would be virtually impossible to find in the throng.

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