Monday, 18 March 2013

Saturday and Sunday 16th and 17th March

Snowy Coot (a new species?)

Coltsfoot on Friday

The view from the hide on Sunday morning
Carpark mid morning

Ashgrave    all pics (c) Bark

I naively thought on Saturday afternoon that Sunday morning couldn't possibly be worse than the very wet, cold and grey morning that we had that day. I could not have been more wrong. On Sunday a very light patchy drizzle as I left home seemed to tie in with the weather forecast and I confidently expected it to get better. Instead after making it to the hide, it began to snow a little, then a lot and then a blizzard. It almost stopped and we ventured out to the first screen and then it snowed even harder and we beat a retreat, leaving the reserve and what few birds could be seen, to a stoic band from the West London RSPB members group who had left London in the morning in fine weather!
Amidst this travesty of spring there were just a few highlights. Three different Hen Harriers were seen two Ringtails working across Greenaways together on Saturday and the male seen late on Sunday afternoon. Barn Owls continue to be seen regularly with one in the carpark field at lunchtime on Saturday between the showers. Curlew are flying around in pairs calling and doing their spectacular kamikaze display flights. There are significant numbers of both Lapwings and Golden Plover on the western side of Ashgrave and the seven White Fronted Geese are still present, but not always visible. Despite the snow on Sunday morning Coots on the pools in front of the hide were battling aggressively with each other sometimes almost drowning their opponent, presumably in an effort to establish territory. Peregrines continue to spook all the ducks across the whole of the reserve and there are large numbers of Snipe lurking around the pools and sedges of both Ashgrave and Big Otmoor. A Jack Snipe flushed from under the feet of Zoe Edwards as she was working on Big Otmoor and it brushed against her wellington boot as it took off. Showing just how tight they sit before flying. This was the ninety eighth species for the yearlist, if spring does get to happen in the next month or so we can expect many more additions.

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