Monday, 19 August 2013

Saturday 17th and Monday 19th August

Male Redstart (c) Tezzer

Female Redstart (c) Tezzer

Peregrine on Saturday (c) Pat Galka

Kestrel and Grasshopper (c) Pat Galka

Emerald Damselfly (c) Peter Law

Unusual variant of Blue Tailed (c) Peter Law

Brown Argus (c) Andy Last

Brown Argus (c) Andy Last

One of our TV stars (c) Nick Truby

Redstarts were the first of our return passage migrants to arrive, with at least seven being seen on Sunday and at least six this morning. They are a mixture of adults and juveniles and are in different stages of moult. They usually stay around for several weeks feeding up and changing their feathers, before heading south. With them on Saturday morning was a Spotted Flycatcher the first one to be recorded on the moor this year. This is our one hundred and forty-sixth species on our yearlist which has been moribund for over a month. Congratulations to Joe Harris the warden on his TV appearance last week we are justifiably proud of our Turtle Doves. It is good that local television is able to highlight the plight of these beautiful birds and to celebrate our success on Otmoor in giving them somewhere to breed.
A smattering of waders were present including both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and Green Sandpipers. Three large flocks of Lapwings were present, each of over two hundred individuals. These are not large flocks by winter standards but are significant and unusual at this time of year. A Marsh Harrier continues to put in sporadic appearances over the reedbed and a Peregrine spooked everything from Ashgrave on Saturday.
Invertebrates are currently attracting many admirers, especially the rare Brown Hairstreaks but they have now been joined on the wing by Brown Argus and Small Coppers to swell any daily butterfly count. After such a desperately cold and unpromising spring it is great to see so many on the wing and it bodes well for breeding success and the promise of good numbers again next year. Peter Law found and photographed an unusual and uncommon variant of Blue-tailed Damselfly on Sunday by the large bramble patch on the corner of the path past the first screen. This is rapidly becoming an insect watching hot spot and is also a good place to find and see warblers and other small passerines. The other popular spot is along the Roman Road and has the additional bonus of regular Brown Hairstreak sightings.
This week it will be worth looking carefully at the farm fence at Noke and out by the bridge at the Pill, as these are the places that usually host the first returning Whinchats, Wheatears and Stonechats.

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