Monday, 4 February 2013

Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd February

Bittern over the reeds (c) Bark

Bewicks on Greenaways (c) Badger

Bewicks again (c) Badger

Barn Owl over the reedbed (c) Andrew Marshall

Long tailed Tit on reed in the snow (c) Andrew Marshall

Barn owl hunting (c) Andrew Marshall

 I have not been down to the moor for almost three weeks. A fortnight ago it was too snowy and last weekend I was in Gambia. There was a difference of thirty degrees centigrade between this Saturday and the previous one, but it proved to be a very enjoyable and exciting morning despite the cold and the biting wind.
Very little seems to have changed on the reserve since my last visit water levels are still high and the surrounding fields still mostly flooded, especially the MOD land.
A ring tailed Hen Harrier is still present and was seen well on both days of the weekend, it seems to hunt over the whole moor and has a circular route that it appears to follow. It was very noticeable just how many Teal and Wigeon were hunkered down on Big Otmoor and only visible when flushed by the harrier. There are also significant numbers of Teal on the reedbed, again only really apparent when disturbed by potential predators. There were also twelve Pochard on the northern lagoon, an increase on earlier this winter. There are still what looks to be a family group of White-fronted geese keeping company with the Greylag flock. There are two well marked adults and another that has a very small blaze suggesting juvenile.
Star of the reedbed on Saturday was the Bittern or Bitterns. Bittern appeared at least seven times on Saturday flying from side to side of the southern lagoon. It (or they) were very restless and gave excellent flight views and rather less good views as it hunted at the back of the right hand channel. Two different individuals had been seen simultaneously earlier in the week.
A Peregrine was sitting out on the far side of Greenaways an area that it seems to favour, having been spotted there frequently this winter. A party of Redpolls are usually to be seen around the feeders and the stock corral.
Undoubted birds of the weekend were the party of Bewicks Swans that appeared to fly off the MOD land over the hedge and on to Greenaways where they settled, preened and dozed until around for o'clock when they flew off strongly to the west. They are very attractive birds, neat and compact. It was very interesting to see the size difference when seen alongside a mute Swan that had taken a dim view of their presence. One of them was a juvenile the others fully adult. They are the first Bewicks we have recorded on the moor for several years and I hope its not too long before we see some again.
I have had a number of reports of a pair of Barn Owls that are being seen hunting over the reedbed and in the Carpark field at dusk, several owl pellets were in the second screen area on Saturday morning.
With conditions being as they are it should not be long before we start to see some more waders on the reserve, there is certainly enough mud!

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