|Short eared Owl at Noke|
|Ruff and Lapwings|
|Dunlins at Noke All pics above (c) Badger|
I only managed one visit to the moor this weekend, the weather being so atrocious on Saturday morning. Water levels have shot up again across the reserve and even the stone track across Greenaways is flooded again. This flooding may have some impact on any Lapwings that have started to lay. Normally RSPB staff expect to have found the first clutches of eggs by the 20th of March. It may be that the birds have delayed laying but some disruption to the breeding cycle seems inevitable. The pattern of returning migrants has also been disrupted. The first Wheatear was found on the fields at Noke on Sunday and a male Garganey on Big Otmoor on Friday afternoon was the one hundredth addition to the yearlist. Another addition to the list was a Woodcock that I flushed from the side of the bridleway on Sunday morning.
Curlew are calling and displaying over the whole site with one pair spending a lot of time on the western end of Big Otmoor an area that they have not frequented in the past. There are also a few pairs of Redshanks that are displaying and calling over Big Otmoor and Ashgrave.
The seven long staying White fronted Geese are still on Ashgrave and while conditions remain as they are there seems little prospect of them heading north yet. The Ring tailed Harriers are still present and the Barn Owls, beautifully photographed last week by Roger Wyatt, are seen frequently in the carpark field and over the reed bed. Peregrines have been making regular forays over the field and flushed the largest numbers of birds from Big Otmoor which the wildfowl and waders seemed to be favouring. A Short Eared Owl was seen in the Noke area on Sunday afternoon.
There are larger numbers of Dunlin coming through and there were at least five Ruff with a flock of over five hundred Golden Plovers on Big Otmoor. The Golden Plovers are well worth a careful look with a scope as many have moulted or are still moulting into summer plumage and are looking very smart.
I am really concerned at what kind of breeding season our birds will have this year. When migrants finally do arrive will there be sufficient insect food? Will resident birds be in condition to breed successfully? Will the late emergence of leaves effect the caterpillars that many small passerines depend on to feed their chicks? Whether this is major climate change or simply an aberrant year, it is sure to be a difficult one for our wildlife.