Monday, 4 March 2013

Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd March

Obliging Kestrel

First Curlew

Barn Owl

Bittern over the reeds

Pintail and Wigeon over

Blackthorn buds. All above pics (c) Bark
Kite Canada interaction (c) Terry sherlock

Male Hen Harrier (c) Terry Sherlock
Despite a very heavy frost over night on Saturday there were still lots of signs that the seasons are changing. I had not been down to the moor for a couple of weeks and the most obvious change is the stabilised water levels, with most of the flooding beyond the reserve having subsided. This has had the effect of drawing in wildfowl to our pools, lagoons and scrapes. It is only possible to appreciate just how many ducks are present when the firing on the rifle range starts up for the first time in the morning. It initiates a mass flush across all the fields and reedbeds. There are almost two thousand Wigeon spread over the reserve and at least a thousand Teal. Shoveller, Gadwall and Tufties are present in good numbers and there were over fifty Pochard on the Southern reedbed on Sunday. When the birds flushed from the middle of the northern section there was a party of up to forty Pintail amongst them. We now have seven Whitefronted Geese feeding with the Greylags and Canadas. There have been Whitefronts present in different numbers and probably different groups since before Christmas and they seem comfortable and confident amongst their larger cousins. One pair of Canada Geese were being hassled by a Red Kite and eventually one of them flew up and tried to threaten it. I have not seen such an interaction before. (thanks to Terry Sherlock for the picture viewable on my blog)
Bittern was seen over the reedbed and at least two and probably three different Hen Harriers were seen. The male Harrier flying very fast and low around Greenaways and over the reedbeds. A Peregrine was sitting out on the ground on Ashgrave and occasionally flushing all the ducks, Golden Plover and Lapwings. Barn Owls are frequently being seen over the reeds and in the Carpark Field. Resident Lapwings are displaying and already flying up to challenge passing Carrion Crows above Big Otmoor. There was one flock of approximately a thousand flying up from the MOD land on Saturday morning.
The first lone Curlew has arrived, normally there would be twenty or thirty at this time so perhaps the rest will turn up this week. There have been no Redshanks, Ruff or Oystercatchers yet this year but it will not be long before we are hearing them again.
In the carpark field there is a very confiding Kestrel that seems to enjoy having its picture taken and below it on the blackthorn the flower buds are swelling. With the wind set to come in from a warmer south easterly direction this week, we could well be looking for our first arriving migrants next weekend.

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