Monday, 11 March 2013

Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th March

Egret on ashgrave showing signs of breeding plumage

Smart Wigeon dropping in.

Last weeks blackthorn buds have burst.

The Carpark Field Songthrush

Four White fronts in flight       All above pics (c) Bark

Whitefronts on the ground (c) Terry Sherlock

What the well dressed Beckley lamb is wearing this season. (c) Badger
The promise of last weekend disappeared and we reverted once again to cold, grey, wintery bleakness.
Redshanks are now back as are Curlew and both could be heard calling as they flew over and around Big Otmoor, Greenaways and Ashgrave. It was a “six raptor” weekend. Two ring-tailed Harriers were seen on both days flushing Snipe, Golden Plovers and Lapwings as they drifted over the fields. A Peregrine was also seen both days spending at least two hours perched on the ground on the northern side of Greenaways. Best sighting of all this weekend was of a pair of Merlin that flew across Ashgrave close together and calling to each other. One of them flew off across Greenaways and the the other, a male, turned back and headed across Ashgrave. I have never heard them calling like that before and whether it was some early pair bonding or one chasing another out of its territory I don't know. It was an exhilarating experience to see two birds so well and so close flying really quickly.
Ducks are getting more confident in front of the hide and the drake Wigeon and Teal are looking particularly spruce at the moment. Many of the other ducks are out on the lagoons or on the pools in the middle of Big Otmoor. Seven White fronts were present again and a group of four were seen flying.
There have been eight Little Egrets present on the reserve since last autumn. In previous years they have been absent for the best part of the winter only returning in the early spring. They are spending their time mostly on Ashgrave and Closes and clearly have been able to find sufficient food throughout the frozen spells. They are beginning to show breeding plumage and I wonder if they may become the next species to breed on Otmoor. I am not sure if the small copse on Ashgrave, where Herons have bred in previous years, is large enough or secure enough for a breeding colony.
Many more passerines are starting to call and sing with much more purpose. Skylarks were particularly noticeable this weekend and the regular Songthrush in the car park field has taken up its song post. A hNuthatch along the Roman Road was the ninety fifth species to recorded on the moor this year, still seven behind Port Meadow, which is experiencing a purple patch. You would think that Avocets at least would make for Otmoor ,they are after all on our logo!

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