|Turtle dove last August (c) Bark|
Stop Press: Stoneshank has just phoned me to say that he has just had a Turtle Dove fly past him along the bridle way. Female Marsh Harrier and the two Whimbrel still present.
I received the following E-Mail from Steve Roby entitled "Otmoor Serengeti" who had a brilliant encounter on Monday evening:
"Sorry to have missed the weekend, I half froze to death walking around Iffley Fields early Saturday morning and then had family commitments both days. Anyway I got to Otmoor yesterday evening and was lucky enough to witness a dramatic predator vs prey encounter.
In order to have the sun behind me I went in at Noke and soon found a Peregrine sitting in the farmers field, right next to a fence post, almost looking as if it was trying to conceal itself from unwary birds on the nearby pool. Down at the second screen the Barn Owl left it's daytime roost and set-off over the reed bed. Some time later as I took cover near the reeds, serenaded by numerous warblers and Water Rails, it flew right over my head, not noticing me until it passed by.
Back at the first screen the Peregrine flew over carrying a dead bird, perhaps its tactics had paid off. A male Sparrowhawk surveyed the reeds from a fence post before startling a pair of Mallard and a Hare by flying off strongly just over their heads, for a moment I even thought it was going to have a go at one of the ducks. Red Kites flew lazily over the reeds in the setting sun.
The main drama was to take place as I walked back towards Lower Farm. I had managed to make a very close approach to a fox intent on digging up something in the grass. Although staring directly at me it didn't seem to see me as I remained still. It went back to digging, then noticed an approaching Hare and dropped into the classic ambush predator position, hidden by the tussocky grass. The Hare came within a few metres of loping right past before seeming to become aware of the danger and changing course. However it stopped again and apparently intent on following it's original course bounded back and then disastrously turned once again, this time directly onto a collision course. I was holding my breath as it headed straight for the jaws of the motionless fox, only pulling up at the very last second.
There was a moment of stillness but the Hare was now clearly within striking distance and all of a sudden the fox lunged out and made its move. There was a sound of teeth or claws raking the hide but the Hare had also reacted and after a brief flurry and chase made it's escape. By now I had moved to follow the action and the fox stared at me again before turning tail and retreating. The Hare continued running around, apparently none-the-worse for its close encounter.
Another one of those great wildlife moments."
Anyone wishing to hear more about Otmoor may be interested in a talk that I am giving in Witney at the Methodist Church, upper hall to the Witney Natural history Society entitled "An Otmoor Year" on Friday 3rd at 7.15 for 7.30.
For even more intrepid souls Joe Harris, the recently appointed reserve warden, and myself are leading a Dawn Chorus walk from the car park at 5 am this Saturday morning.
Finally if you were the person who reported a summer plumage Spotted Redshank last Thursday and wrote it up on the whiteboard in the hide, would you please drop myself or the RSPB office an e-mail so that we can formally enter it into our records.