|Willow Warbler (c) Bark|
|Chiffy (c) Bark|
|Carpark Barn Owl (c) Bark|
|Courting Gadwall (c) Bark|
|Sitting Grey Heron (c) Badger|
|Galloping Hare (c) Bark|
|Buzzard on Ashgrave Both pics (c) T.S.|
Despite the strong winds and occasional showers spring has finally arrived. Warm weather and the wind from the south brought a fall of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs to otmoor this weekend with even more of them on Sunday than Saturday. Only some were singing, most were flycatching among the still bare twigs and branches of the hedgerows, seldom staying still. After such a long and difficult passage there must be a powerful urge to feed up and get into breeding condition.
Duck numbers are falling off now with smaller and fewer parties of Wigeon scattered over the fields. Teal are fewer and much dispersed. There are still two pairs of Pintail out on Big Otmoor and good numbers of Shoveller and Gadwall the latter often performing noisy courtship flights over the reedbeds. Garganey were both seen from the first screen and heard from the second, their call being very distinctive.
The Barn Owl in the carpark field put on a superb display as it hunted for at least half and hour in the Car park field on Saturday morning, sometimes coming very close. The other regular bird was again seen hunting around the reedbed. Peregrines and Buzzards were seen over Ashgrave and the Ring-tailed Hen Harrier is still being seen regularly. Kites and Lapwings have have begun to contest the airspace again over Big Otmoor. Snipe numbers are high and there were drumming birds seen and heard on both days. There are still at least one hundred and fifty Golden Plover dividing their time between Greenaways and Big Otmoor. They are now almost all moulted into full summer plumage and in the sunshine look particularly stunning.
On Sunday there were at least thirteen Little Egrets mostly concentrated on the Closes, it must offer them excellent feeding opportunities to be supporting such good numbers. Grey Herons were also present with at least eight on Ashgrave. Best of all was the sight of a bird sitting on a nest in the oak trees that that stick out into Ashgrave. Herons have not used this site for several years and were the heronry to become properly established it might encourage the Little Egrets to join them, as has happened at other sites.
All three common hirundine species have now been seen and on Sunday Swallows were especially noticeable. Wheatears were out on Ashgrave and big Otmoor and we were very pleased to find a female Ring Ousel
on the edge of the road down to the rifle range. A flyover Yellow Wagtail was the other new migrant for the year. Hares are behaving characteristically, indulging in wild chases, boxing matches and mad scrums.
Over the next couple of weeks I expect the migrant warblers to flood in and with them other waders and birds that will only visit on passage such as Whinchat and Redstart. It is a really exciting time and feels even better after such a miserable and prolonged wait.
PS Subsequent to writing this Sedge Warblers have been seen and heard this morning and a Bar tailed godwit seen on the Barn Field